What is believed to be a small foot with a size six trainer with a sock was found in a fisherman’s net just east of Ardglass.
It was dragged up by the prawn trawler Katie Grace in Ardglass skipper Sean McNabb’s net during the last trawl for prawns on Wednesday afternoon. Ardglass is a busy fishing port with over thirty fishing vessels and many fish on a basis of returning to the port daily to land their catch.
The crew were shocked at the grisly find and contacted the Coastguard who subsequently phoned the police.
Weather conditions were good and on the trawler’s arrival back at Ardglass port, the police arrived and took the foot away for forensic examination. A police spokesman said: “At around 6.30pm on Wednesday 10th June police were contacted by fishermen in Ardglass who had recovered a shoe and sock from the sea with what they believed to be bones inside.
“The bones, which do appear to be human remains, were recovered to the forensic mortuary at the Royal Victoria Hospital.”
It is not known who the foot with a white sock belonged to but it is thought to be a size six trainer and possibly a woman’s.
The prawn and fish catch caught in the net was subsequently stored in a separate fridge at the harbour near the fish market and Environmental Health Inspectors from Newry Mourne and Down District Council will inspect the catch and then see that it is properly disposed of so that it is not used for human consumption.
Sean McNabb, the skipper of the 46-feet prawn trawler, the Katie Grace, said: “One of our crew members spotted it when we lifted the net after the second tow. We were heading back into the harbour early that Wednesday as our boat had to to on the slip for some repairs and we had to clean the boat up. It was a grizly find and we did what we thought was the right thing for that person and notified the authorities.
“The Food Safety Agency got involved and basically we have to dump around 25 stones of quality prawns. The prawns are in the cold storage at the minute but I’m expected to pay for their destruction probably in an incinerator to ensure they do not find their way back into the human food chain.
“It is very sad that this foot belonged to someone, and whoever it was, they deserve a proper burial if that is now possible.”
A spokesperson for Newry Mourne and Down District Council said: ““On Thursday 11 June, Newry Mourne and Down District Council’s Environmental Health team were contacted regarding the discovery of a shoe and suspected human bones found among a catch of prawns landed the previous evening at Ardglass port.
Update: “The prawns had already been quarantined away from the other catch landed that day. Following consultation with the Food Standards Agency, the owner of the fishing vessel was contacted and informed that although the risk to food safety and therefore public health is likely to be low; taking consideration of the wider consumer interests and need to maintain consumer confidence in the food chain the affected batch should not be placed on the market for human consumption.”