Charity steps up pressure for change at Turtle Farm

| 19/05/2014

(CNS): The World Society for the Protection of Animals launched a new report last week with the support of UK members of parliament, who are backing the charity’s call for a change to the Cayman Turtle Farm. The report details ongoing animal welfare issues and urges the transformation of the facility from farming to conservation. Highlighting what it calls the stimulation of turtle meat sales to tourists, it also questions the Farm’s conservation credentials as well as the environmental problems it creates and points to the significant subsidies from the public purse. However, the CTF said the report misrepresented the facts and denied selling meat to tourists, blaming local restaurants for creating that market.

The report, entitled "The Cayman Turtle Farm: A Continued Case for Change", was backed by Joan Walley MP, Chair of the UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, which has also raised concerns about the Farm in its own report, and Dr Matthew Offord MP, who hosted the report’s launch. The MPs spoke about their own concerns regarding the conditions at the Farm, which they both visited last year. The MPs are part of growing group that is pressuring the UK government to do something about what is considered a very controversial facility outside of Cayman.

Despite some advances made during its last visit, the charity detailed its ongoing concerns, pointing to the continuing husbandry and welfare problems, and emphasized the CTF’s stimulation of turtle meat consumption by visitors.

“While the true volume of Caymanian demand for turtle meat is unconfirmed, from 2010 to 2011, the Farm aimed to maintain production levels of turtle meat at 1,600lbs per week effectively anticipating a level of demand that has not been qualified. By also selling turtle meat to tourists, the Farm may spur a market for turtle meat that would not otherwise exist,” the WSPA stated.

The report also goes to the heart of claims made by the Cayman Turtle Farm that it is not just a butcher but that it has been central in conservation and research about turtles. It noted that of the 31,000 turtles released, 80% of which were tagged, only 13 have ever returned to Cayman beaches. Just 12 wild-caught and 31 captive-bred turtles produced viable eggs in 2012 from the many thousands of turtles held at the facility. It accuses the Farm of damaging the environment as a result of the untreated waste pumped directly into the sea, which is damaging the reefs and ocean water quality. The report also reminds readers of the more than CI$10 million per annum that the CTF sucks up in public subsidy.

Dr Neil D’Cruze, from WSPA, said the Farm is still failing to meet the welfare requirements of the 9,000 plus endangered turtles in its care.

“Some small changes have been made at the Farm, WSPA’s new report highlights that these simply do not go far enough. Add to this the potential negative impacts that the Farm has on wild sea turtle populations and marine biodiversity whilst also operating at a significant loss; it remains clear that the Cayman Turtle Farm must stop sea turtle farming,” he said, adding that the WSPA would continue to work with UK and Cayman Island politicians to demonstrate the need to transition the Farm into a turtle rehabilitation facility.

The Farm hit back and accused the charity of misrepresentation.

“What the WSPA is doing with this latest released report is merely a regurgitation of their previously stated claims, plus ongoing misrepresentation of facts to suit their aim to stop turtle farming by any means, ignoring long-standing local cultural traditions and displaying a reckless disregard for the truth.“

The Farm said the allegation that it is stimulating demand for turtle meat was the “most egregious fabrication” as the farm doesn’t sell turtle meat to tourists. “If local restaurants choose to serve turtle, which is a traditional cultural dish in the Cayman Islands, and tourists choose to patronise those restaurants – that is merely their choice in a free society,” it said.

The Farm also refutes allegations that it is overproducing and said it has over 500 individual customers and over 30 local restaurants. “The demand is real and immediate: almost all of the meat is sold fresh the very same day it is harvested,” the CTF said in a long release in response to the WSPA report. It said it was impossible to know how many Farm turtles had returned to Cayman but studies confirmed that turtles released from CTF migrated far and wide helping to increase the population of green sea turtles. It also said there had been a “huge upswing in the number of sea turtle nests in Cayman inrecent years.

“There were approximately 20 Green sea turtle nests here in 2000, whereas in 2012 there were approximately 180: a nine-fold increase in the twelve year span,” as it took credit for that increase. Insisting that its existence prevents poaching, the Farm said the increase in sightings of sea turtles around Cayman was due to its own efforts.

Describing itself as Cayman’s number one land-based attraction, with over 200,000 visitors annually, it justified its gargantuan subsidy from the public, claiming it has a “positive macroeconomic impact” because it sustains hundreds of jobs in the local economy.

It also refutesclaims that the discharge is causing environmental harm, saying nearby reefs are fine and that the farm continues to operate under a proper Water Discharge Permit issued by the Water Authority.

“The WSPA is clearly interested only in telling a lopsided story to suit their agenda. WSPA representatives have given little credit to the strides that CTF has made in recent years in measures taken to ensure animal welfare, and they have chosen to ignore or refute the real conservation benefits of CTF,” a farm spokesperson stated. “The WSPA has not yet achieved its aim of stopping turtle farming in the Cayman Islands, so they are continuing their lobbying efforts and misleading sensationalism in order to strong-arm the UK Government, the Cayman Islands Government, the Cayman Turtle Farm, and the Caymanian people to get their way.”

The photo above was released to WSPA via an FOI request and shows how several hundred turtles were left to die when they were exposed to the sun in a waterless tank as a result of a pipe leak in 2012.

See statement from CTF below and full report from WSPA.

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Comments (46)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    These folk don't give a damn about the turtles. They are posers disguised as concerned citizens.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The UK can just pass an Order In Council banning domestic trade in CITES protected products in Overseas Territories.  End of debate then.

    • Anonymous says:

      2;14

      Can you please explain what is your grip with the Cayman Islands having a TurtleFarm? its's been there over 40 years now.

      Nobody complained all these years. yes, I agree it is taking alot fo money from the treasuary to opperate this facility,but that only happened when we added on the water Park.

      This has nothing to do with the Turtles. Why dont we just shut down the park which is causing lots of money to run? 

      Maybe most of you objectors on here dont want Caymanian  to boast of the only Turtle farm in the World? Maybe that's what's eating you all up on the inside.

      Most of you came here 30-40 years ago and accepted the Caymanian way of life, now you all have Caymanian status, and the true you have started the ball rolling. 

  3. That other guy says:

    Ah now thatour banking system had been nullified and all but ran from out shores along with the changing of caymanians own status on these lands where the British has all but pushed us into the outskirts of our own land ( no help by our own efforts in allowing so ) they've now targeted our own favorite dish.

    • Anonymous says:

      Stop! Listen!  You can hear in the background the whine of a thousand tiny violins.

    • Anonymous says:

      oh dear 01.17, suspect you have been smoking something possibly not legal. I am sure it made perfect sense to you at the time of writing..

    • Anonymous says:

      Miss Cayman??!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    The world is changing and people are more passionate about conservation than ever before. Look at how many people are boycotting Sea World since the movie Black Fish was released. We are fighting a losing battle in the court of public opinion, and the WSPA is getting their message across. If we don't change the Turtle Farm's strategy soon, we could have many people boycotting Cayman altogether, not just the Turtle Farm. 

    I think attendance numbers will continue to decrease long term if the Turtle Farm does not change its strategy from farming to conservation only. 

  5. Doctor Too Little Too Late says:

    Rather than vent my anger about what [they] The WSPA and Joan Walley MP and others are

    trying to do to us I will say to them. "Clean your own back-yard first"  before telling us how dirty

    ours is! 

    To show the hypocrisy of these people, they laud us about animal cruelty and such but after 

    you see this film on "YOUTUBE" entitled "Cruel Brirannia" you will see what I mean.  I beg 

    every Cayman who  reads this to do yourself a favor and watch it.  It is sickening. 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVGR1N2Pl00

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      That is the most disguting, cruel act on  animals i have seen.

      I think we should appeal to the UK to shut these farms down. Do you really think WSPA cares about our rasing of turtles in captivity??

      That is another stunt by the FCO to chop our feet off. Another Tempura/Selt false opperation.

      • Diogenes says:

        Chop our feet off?  It costs us a fortune every year.  If the FCO wanted to cause us pain they would encourage us to expand it, not plot to close it. 

  6. C. Brown says:

    I propose the $10,000,000 subsidy be stopped.  Let the turtle farm sink or swim on it's own merits.  I suspect the high-ups are taking most of the proceeds anyway.

  7. Anonymous says:

    More of the same garbage.  

  8. Anonymous says:

    Expressed another way: Boatswain/Turtle Farm has cost this country >$100mln in last 10 years alone.  Imagine where that money should have and might have been invested otherwise.  How many viable turtles released during that period?  Nuff said.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would like to know how much is being paid out on welfare for people that are not born Caymanians how much have to be written off at the hospital for non natives, how much the govrnment have to pay for non native children in schools, then compare that figure to the 100mlm spent in the last 10 years at the Turtle Farm.  I know one thing for sure those Turtlesare indegenious because they will only come back to lay their eggs where they were born it does not matter where in the world that they go, so nuff said already, you go figure!

      • Anonymous says:

        Caymanians are Caymanians.  Treating "born" and "non-native" differently is just racism.  It seems from your logic that local turtles deserve more respect than non-native Caymanians.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes you are correct "Caymanians" are caymanians however, there is an inherentdifference between "born" and "non-native".  No one will beso silly to even suggest that turtles deserve more respect than non-natives, then agan maybe WASPA and other organizations that would prefer that we put Caymanians out of work by closing the farm, deny Caymanians, "non-natives" and "born" the right  to a meal of turtle meat if they choose to eat it.  The subject is about turtle meat and not racism but if you want to go there I will go right there with you.  I have one message to give to anyone who believes that Cayman is null and void of everything including natural justice and our way of life is not important go search up natural justice on the internet and let the Caymanian people and their turtles remain as they are and once was.  When this facade comes crashing down very few Caymanians and some turtles at the farm will be left, gone now are the  fish, conch, lobsters, whelks and land crabs.

          Here is an excerpt that was taken from a Natural Justice website

          Our vision is the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity through the self-determination of Indigenous peoples and local communities.

          Go tell WASPA that the indigenous peoples of Cayman did eat and still eat turtle meat and then explain to us why we now don't have a right to do so.   
           
          Again to all "Caymanians" those that are indigenous and those who are not a plate of turtle stew is where the heart is!
      • Anonymous says:

        18:21,

        The turtles being bred at the Farm have bigger brains than you.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Maybe a spell check and grammar check before posting next time?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why don't you people mind your own busness and stay out of ours.  Tunrtle meat has been a national dish  of Cayman for  generatons. We do not tell you how to chater our mad cow or you chicken flu diseases.  It is simple  if you are not enjoyng the movie, then  switch the channel.

    • Anonymous says:

      Slavery went on for "generations" and was a part of the "culture" of the Southern States. That doesn't mean it was right. 

      And actually, the international community DOES tell various countries what to do with mad cow and chicken flu diseases. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Ridiculous comparison. There is nothing at all morally wrong with maintaining a turtle farm and eating some of the turtle from the farm.

      • Anonymous says:

        Keep your Mad Cow and Chicken Flu, do what you want to with them. Cayman and Caymanians are not telling anyone what to do with their Cow and Chicken, we don't care as long as you keep it away from us.  Turtle Meat is raised and sold in Cayman leave us along with it and go deal with your own s*&%.  

    • Union Jack says:

      But you see, it is their business as it is British territory. 

      • Anonymous says:

        AND my business as an expat giving the govt 15 k a year in fees

        • Anonymous says:

          16;23

          Imagine what you would be giving the UK for your business? if you could afford to have one in the UK!

           

          • Anonymous says:

            Yes but in England I get back. Here it all goes to people that don't even want me here

             

            • Anonymous says:

              Seems like the best place for you then is back in jolly good England where you will get back your taxes from people who want and need you there.   So sorry to see you leave, NEXT!

        • Anonymous says:

          Your 15K a year in fees is a very small price for what you have achieved here. You probably would have paid twice that amount in taxes from whence you came.

      • Anonymous says:

        Just like we were British when Hurricane Ivan came.  Were we not? yes, no, maybe… hellow, when it suits you and everyone else.  Keep your hands off our turtle meat "Dat is Caymanian" and not British!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Well done to WSPA for their perserverance.  This barabaric place needs to be banned from selling any turtle products.  It is a disgrace that thisis happening on British soil, I am shocked.  Apparently it is considered "cultural" to eat turtle, which is incredible in the 21st century.  I cannot see the local authority closing it down, so WSPA are doing the right thing taking the issue to London, where something can be done.

    • Anonymous says:

      Two conservative organizations fighting against each other. Is this how the WSPA does its job?

      All of the turtles in the turte farm came from hatching its on turtles. Shut it down may be that big mouth organization can raise the turtles then.

    • Anonymous says:

      Let's stop the slaughtering of whales for "research" by the Japanese, let's stop the spearing of bulls by the spaniards, let's stop the clubbing of seals in Canada (which is the only place on Earth where it is still legal eat them), THEN and only then we will have the right to come to this country and tell the people here what to do.

      I am amazed at how everyone comes here and try's to dictate to this country, but yet their own countries have so much to answer to!!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually, there are very strong international efforts to stop all the activities you just listed. You're argument basically amounts to: "No I'm not, you are". It doesn't really hold any weight. 

        • Anonymous says:

          The poster DOES have a strong argument!!! What they mentioned still occurs today!

          • Anonymous says:

            So if an individual lives in an imperfect society (which they may be agitating to change from withing) they have no right to observe and object to other imperfections outside their 'nation'?

            If you follow that argument all the way down the line then lets let any tyrant overrun every country in the world except our own because we are not perfect so cannot in all conscience condemn them.

            Thank god the moral courage exists in the world not to take that view.

      • Anonymous says:

        Don't forget about the British and Bird Gaming. At least we did not train dogs to to chase after fallen birds and bring them back to us. 

        • Anonymous says:

          Are game birds protected endangered species?  No.  Move on and pick another bad argument.  The fallen birds need to be humanely killed and then eaten.  Eating game is the fun bit.

      • Anonymous says:

        All of you who are so hell-bent on destroying Cayman culture, please look at this on CNN..

        http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/22/world/europe/spain-bullfighting/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

        Now tell me with a straight face that this isn't a cruel and discusting act. But yet it continues, and you all that are so horrified by us EATING something that is slaughtered properly and FARMED, don't lobby WASPA (aka WASP in the %ss) to stop this!!

        Look through all the pictures, does it look like the bull is having fun?! To be speared to death, as thousands clap and cheer?!! Oh wait, Caymanians go down to the Turtle Farm and clab and cheer as the turtles are being slaughtered.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are lots of pigs the world over that need saving, go find them and leave the turtles in Cayman alone they don't want or need you to save them.

    • Anonymous says:

      This barbaric place was busy saving these same turtles when the rest of the world was still leaning about endangerd species.

  12. Voice of reason says:

    Just close it.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Is anyone else surprised that Big Mac hasn't suggested that this is another attempt by the FCO to destabilize Cayman?