UK Tory MP backs no turtle meat for tourists

| 30/07/2014

(CNS): A British Tory MP was in the Cayman Islands this week to lend his support to efforts being spearheaded by a UK animal charity to transition the Cayman Turtle Farm from a butcher's shop into a conservation facility. Dr Matthew Offord is also backing the campaign to persuade local restaurants to take turtle off the menu and stop promoting the meat to visitors. The Conservative back-bencher hosted a reception at Grand Old House, the first restaurant to stop promoting the meat, with the World Animal Protection (formerly the World Society for Protection of Animals) as the charity and the Cayman government resumed talks about the issue.

The ongoing animal welfare problems associated with the Cayman Turtle Farm, which is now the last place in the world commercially farming endangered green sea turtles, were at the top of the agenda at the event. Offord is a member of the UK parliament’s Environmental Audit Select Committee who is offering his support to talks about changes at the Farm.

Offord was one of the UK politicians on the committee involved in the Sustainability in the UK Overseas Territories report, which supported the findings of the WPA and its concerns about conditions at the Farm. The Committee has also raised the issue of the UK Government’s role as part of its ongoing discussions with the Cayman Islands Government.

Offord noted conservation efforts in Cayman and what he described as the "positive dialogue that is occurring between World Animal Protection and the Cayman Islands Government in addressing issues of sustainability at the Cayman Turtle Farm," adding that he was looking forward to its "cooperation in the future”.

Talks with the government will aim to build on positive measures agreed upon earlier this year, include the funding of research into the true local demand for turtle meat and the effectiveness of the Farm’s annual turtle release and the current suspension of that programme until the results of such research are available.

Dr Neil D’Cruze, Head of Wildlife Policy and Research at World Animal Protection, said, “We commend Dr Offord for his admirable advocacy on behalf of animal welfare, and are grateful to have had the opportunity to meet with Caymanian stakeholders to continue our discussions on how best to achieve positive change for green sea turtles.”

World Animal Protection has long advocated for the Cayman Turtle Farm not to close but to transition into a true rehabilitation and release facility that fully protects sea turtles.

Concerned that the farm has no idea what the real demand for the meat is even from locals, De Cruze also said he was delighted to hear that the Department of the Environment has received funding from the UK's department of food and rural affairs' Darwin initiative to begin a comprehensive survey of that demandand research into the genetic profile of turtles nesting on the beaches to identify the connections of the local wild turtles to the Farm.

That project is unrelated to the WAP campaign and part of the DoE's broader research work into the endangered species and their survival in the wild. It is being led by Dr  Ana Nuno from the University of Exeter and is expected to provide the first truly objective information about the origin of turtles that are breeding in local waters as well as get a true assessment of how much demand there is for meat and the issues surrounding poaching.

The WAP maintains that the CTF slaughters animals without properly assessing demand and also keeps huge numbers of the animals without knowing the true level of consumption and whether it is necessary to breed so many. D'Cruze said that any figures that can give a truer picture of how much and how many local people do eat the meat may help reduce the numbers held at the Farm.

Understanding that the effort to transition the facility to conservation will be a long process, he said that simply reducing the numbers, which are estimated to currently be more than 9,000 animals held at the Farm, would be a step in the right direction.

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Comments (72)

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  1. Anonyanmous says:

    I prefer a good turtle stew any day to burger king, wendy's, kfc, fish and chips and any other food on this earth. Anyone who don't like it can lump it and don't let the door knob hit you.

  2. anonymous says:

    What will they give away free to voters in BT when this gets banned?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Friends don't let friends munch turtle.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The survey about who eats turtle will probably bv done among expats to rig the results. Why would they trust someone from the UK to do it?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I remember being out a client dinner and a junior member of staff ordered turtle.  It was so embarrassing for everyone and he had no clue.    I never took him out near clients after that.  Pretty much marked his card for the future, and I was very glad when he left.

    • C'mon Now! says:

      Seriously you "marked his card" for that.  It's not like he ordered the family pet which I think I have probably eaten  in China.  I've been to the Turtle Farm, no shortage of them there. That is why they have the farm.  Do you think we should all go vegan and turn cattle ranches etc into conservation facilities? Farmed turtle is just another protein source.

      • Anonymous says:

        Does the phrase "endangered species" have no meaning to you – once they are gone, they aren't coming back

        • C'mon Now! says:



          Please tell me how eating a farmed animal contributes to the collapse of the wild species?  The theory is that all the farmed meat results in less being taken from the wild.  The mess that has been made of the Turtle Farm/Bosun's Beach or whatever we call it these days is another issue but eating the farmed animals is no different that chicken, pork, beef etc. 

          Should we stop eating farmed Salmon?  The wild stocks of Atlantic Salmon have collapsed and unless you've caught it yourself or watch someone else pull it out of the water it has come from a farm.

           

        • AnnaMouse says:

          The mind boggles – endangered farm animals.

    • Anon says:

      Guess it would have been ok if he had ordered snails or frogs legs or even alligator or snake meat!  If eating turtle "marked his card for the future"  I'm guessing he didn't stand much of a chance in your company anyway. Says a lot about you and your company. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Well snails, frogs etc are not endangered species, so you have not got a point there.

      • Anonymous says:

        This is the disconnect.  Frogs, alligators and snakes are not on the ICUN Red List.  It would be more like a delusional self-indulgent person ordering a Black Rhino Steak, or the Panda Burger with a side of Siberian Tiger gallbladder and justifying the action because it came from the government zoo.

    • Anonymous says:

      Discrimination on the basis of diet. Well, well well. You shoud be ashamed of yourself trying to make a Caymanian ashamed of his national dish.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think we just found out why Caymanians are being overlooked in the job market, becasue they eat turtle and might order it at a client lunch.

  6. Knot S Smart says:

    Remember that time when the meat industry in the U.S. sued Oprah and won because she made disparging remarks about eating meat?

    Just saying…

    • Anonymous says:

      So the Turtle Rancher's Association will make a public statement advocating the boycott of Dr. Orford? I don't get it.

  7. Michel says:

    I am always amazed at what comes out of some UK members of Their Parliement. Give up your fish and chips to begin with. No one forces anyone to eat turtle meat. It has been an important food for the earlier Caymanians on ships and here at home. What's next ? All to Please our "Masters". Really ? Not today and never BoBo. Get onna Houses in order and let us eat what we want ! And yes if ever it's banned it will encourage poaching. This has been part of our staple food for many many generations.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The eating of turtle is barbaric and backwards.  It is a disgrace to the UK that this "farm" is operating on its soil.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you really think that yelling your contempt for the culture of others is going to have an impact?  

      • Anonymous says:

        Culture?  You havin a laugh?  If you think that is your culture you have not got any.

        • Anonymous says:

          And you are just stupid enough to think that any people could be completely devoid of culture.

      • Anonymous says:

        Bull fighting and female genital mutilation are claimed to be cultural.  Being called "cultural" does not mean it can't be barbaric.

    • Knot S Smart says:

      I am a citizen of the UK and I just looove stew turtle.

      Especially the one from Country and Western…

  9. Anonymous says:

    The British Tory MP should eat a turtle meat dinner before he makes a decision.

  10. Anonymous says:

          I wonder if his constituents are happy paying for his vacation to the Cayman Is,including partying at Grand Old House.

  11. Anonymous says:

                    Imagine ,this man represents the very people who are telling us not to waste taxpayers money.;at the same time we have really learned a lot about wasting funds from the British over the last five years.  eg  1) Pretend you are investigating police corruption,but use your time soaking up some sea and sun.2) Pretend you are interested in turtle conservation so that you can get a trip to the Cayman Is and throw a lavish party for the rich and famous.

    • Anonymous says:

      wasting funds? you mean the turtle farm is making a profit and is not a drain on everyone's pockets that needs investigating. we have wasted over $100 million on the "farm" in the last 10 years. Money that should have been put into education. You have forfited your childrens future just to keep your own bellies full of turtle meat.

      • Anonymous says:

        False argument. Have you ever seen a politician at budget time say "no, I'm going to vote against the appropriation that Education has asked for becaue I think it should be spent on X isntead"? If you can't site X then your argument is spurious.

      • Anonymous says:

        08:08, you are referring to Botswain Beach, Mac's attempt at a Cayman SeaWorld, this is a seperate entity to the Turtle Farm.

        And in case you have been asleep for the last 6+ years, there has been excessive spending on Education, perhaps the words Clifton Hunter might ring a bell?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Cayman used to have people we called MEN in the olden days who started a march against these things, and  WOMEN who walked beside them, and when it was time to march we left our desk and got in line.

    WHERE  are they today.  Mr MP please mind your own business.

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps they are their desks.  Not wasting time on silly marches which were organised with vaguely sexist undertones.

    • anonymous says:

      I doubt it. Not unless free food was involved.

  13. Anonymous says:

    In 2011, 10% of the CTF herd was consumed for meat.  We sure eat alot of meat.  Yet, nobody seems to want to ask about the disposal methods and security for the most valuable byproduct of the slaughter – the tortoiseshell scutes, 4 tons of which are smuggled in illegal trade per year to feed the traditional Hekko Industry in Japan.  Japan's remaining stockpiles were to have been exhausted long ago under CITES restrictions, but to this day the industry thrives.  There is a $4mln pa trade deal with Cuba, and other illicit known dealings with Honduras.  Given our regional trade routes, I'd like to know how the CTF controls access to its slaughterhouse and what, if any, secure supervision and disposal methods apply to our shell scute "refuse".  As embarressing as it might be for some to have this unwanted WSPA attention, it would cause immeasureable harm to our tourism industry if individuals were to be found to be profiting from the illegal trade in shell – grown and funded at great expense from Cayman's public purse – for their own personal gain.  Raw shell is sold at about $1000/kg in Nagasaki.  If 900 animals are slaughtered a year and each shell is 10 kg, that's $9,000,000 in illegal trade potential per annum just from Cayman.  Worth asking about.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Well anyone involve in the transport of shells against the CITES obligations deserves a long time in jail.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This is really silly. All this ban would cause is more illegal turtle fishing in the wild. Eating turtle is a part of the Caymanian heritage – this is not something I particiate in, but I do understand. It is for the Turtle Farm to improve the quality of their facilities and for Cayman health/animal regulators to continue to monitor the farm. 

    • Anonymous says:

      It is only part of Cayman's heritage because apart from fish there was a lack of other meat available.  As this no longer applies, there is clearly no need to be eating an endangered species.  Cannibal tribes might say the same thing – but that doesn't mean it would be accepted.  I'm sure there are many other traditions around the world that no longer endure – because it's socially unacceptable and because it is not necessary.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ahh, but the turtles in the farm are not endangered. So your argument against the farm is baseless. Its like saying that aligators are endangered so we shouldn't eat the farmed ones. (A scenerio that obtains in other places. You farm endangered species so you stop taing ones from the wild. Except in Cayman because for some reason turtles are special to people not from Cayman.)

        • Anonymous says:

          Deny and rationalise all you want; the reality is that Sea Turtles are special to Billions of other people because they are actually endangered.  You can Google it.

          The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species v2014.2:

          Caretta caretta (Loggerhead), Status: Endangered

          –> Chelonia mydas (Green Turtle), Status: Endangered <–

          Dermochelys coriacea (Leatherback), Status: Vulnerable

          Eretmochelys imbricata (Hawksbill Turtle), Status: Critically Endangered

          Lepidochelys olivacea (Olive Ridley), Status: Endangered

           

        • Anonymous says:

          The thousands of turtles you don't see on display at the farm are in fact livestock and are not part of the reproducing herd.  So yeah, the vast majority that are not released are pretty much at the end of their line.

        • Anonymous says:

          No, but the species are, idiot.

          • Anonymous says:

            You are missing the poster's point. Eating turtle from the farm does not endanger the species at all.

      • Anonymous says:

        They eat HORSES in Kazakhstan! OK?.

        Keeping things in perspective for the narrow-minded.

    • Anonymous says:

      Even though you can buy meat from the farm, people all over the island are still catching turtle.  Ask any diver and they will tell you about the fewer number of turtles seen on dives.  The number of nests has been decreasing over the years as idiots see nesting season as a great time to catch, so many large females don't have a chance to even lay their eggs.  Its happening all over the island and the government won't gives the DOE the funding or the teeth to stop it.  Anyone who thinks that the farm stops people from taking turtles from the wild is fooling themselves.

      • Anonymous says:

        A) The farm farms green turtles. The turtles on the reef are hawksbill turtles. Apples & Oranges. (Though it is humerous to see this argument since its usually the reverse: 'divers see lots of turtles on the reef so the farm is working'. To which I must point out the above logical disconnect.) – And having seen a nice big hawksbill on the reef on Tuesday (2 dives this week, one turtle spotted) I question that we're seeing less.

        B)  There is actually more nesting recorded over the last few years than the preceeding years. – From DoE.ky – turtle nesting: "Since 1998, the DoE has been conducting a systematic survey of the beaches of the Cayman Islands to identify signs of turtle nesting. The first years of monitoring showed that leatherback nesting was indeed locally extinct, and likely lost to us forever, but extremely small numbers of green, loggerhead, and hawksbill turtles persisted. Since that time, hawksbill nesting has continued to hover at the edge of extinction but loggerhead and particularly green turtle populations have begun to show signs of recovery – increasing from less than 30 nests when Department of Environment monitoring began in 1998 to more than 300 nests in 2012." – You note the increase in green turtle nesting? (Please, this is no reason to go out and poach or ask to relax the rules. A coupel of hundred nests still isn't very many for the size turtle nesting population Law Tortugas did and could again support.)

         

        Anyone who uses made up 'facts' is fooling themselves.

        • Anonymous says:

          I don't follow your assertion that there are only Hawksbills resident in our waters, when by your own statistical submission we have local Green, Loggerhead, and Hawksbill nesting sites?  Look closer on your next dive and those are just as likely to be green turtles from the farm – look for a titanium tag on fore flipper or a white contrasting dot on their back shell from a hatchling shell graft.  What's rare and even more special is when we don't see one of those two things.

      • Anonymous says:

        A coworker used to boast about how she couldn't wait to get back to the Brac for the holidays because her nanna made the best Loggerhead meat balls.  Fascinated, I enquired, so where does she get these Loggerheads?  "From the Sea!", like I'man idiot for asking.  Leads me to believe there is an active grey market on all three islands.

        • Anonymous says:

          Report this monster to the police.  A long jail term would be ideal.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why more poaching?  Is it because of the natural proclivity towards criminal behavior that is so readily tolerated by many in Cayman?  I wish the DoE would use their new NCL powers and lock up those few jerks that really wreck this place.

      • Anonymous says:

        That's the point, the DOE haven't got those powers yet because of self interest by certain MLA's. However, even with the powers, the DOE enforcement team would need a serious expansion on present manning levels. Poaching can be prevented, poachers can be jailed, but that will require man power, new equpment and a strong judiciary.

        The killing and eating of an endangered species is morally and internationally wrong. To indulge in such behaviour only demonstrates a willingness to abrogate civilised responsibilities in order to indulge historical predilections. This isn't about the UK wanting to stop the farming of turtles and the consumption of their meat, it is an internationally agreed treaty that Cayman must abide by or face the consequences.

        Nonsensical claims of cultural interference are what would be expected from a third world country who continually trys to justify behaviour that others find abhorrent. The sexual mutilation of woman and girls, the burka, the slaughter of elephants for ivory and human slavery are all examples of cultural barbarism that should be consigned to the history books. We are not living in some long forgotten age when we didn't know any better, we live in the 21st century and that comes with responsibilities, not mistaken cultural excuses.

  15. Anonymous says:

    So if we stop eating the turtles will the UK allocate funding to keep the turtle farm open?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Now this is really ridiculous. Some UK politician should not be meddling in our internal affairs and particularly not trying to dictate who can or cannot eat turtle. These people need to be told where to get off. 

  17. Anonymous says:

    I guess the MP does not have any pressing issues back home; this is why his constituents elected him to ban turtle meat and such.

    But I didnt realize so many tourists ate turtle meat that he would come here and try to ban it. This is really going to make the Turtle Farm change course!

    • Anonymous says:

      I think that you would be surprised and somewhat uncomfortable at how much support he will get from his constituents for representing them on what is seen a clear conservation issue. 

       

      • Anonymous says:

        Very true. its all about managaging perception. Which the WSPA disinformation machine does very well.

  18. B. Hurlstone says:

     The Cayman Turtle Farm is now the last place in the world commercially farming endangered green sea turtles.  Does that mean anything to you?  It does to me.  It means that we are out of step with the rest of the world. Turtle meat is not a necessity of life.  Would anyone suffer if they didn't have turtle meat for dinner?  I don't think so.  There are thousands of Caymanians who don't eat turtle meat.  Like me, they want the turtles to be here for future generations.  The turtle farm has been a bottomless pit for our government funds for years, with millions of dollars going to people running the farm.  Does anyone know how much money is taken in from admission fees?  Does anyone know how much is taken in from the sale of turtle meat?  Does anyone know how much has unaccountably disappeared?  It's time for some serious changes!   Make it a conservation facility and tourist attraction or shut it down!

    • Anonymous says:

      08:00

      The Turtle Farm and Botswain Beach are two different entities.

      Is there anywhere else in the World that breeds Green Sea Turtles? A small percentage of these are consumed locally, it is not a giant slaughter house FFS.

      It already is a conservation facility and a tourist attraction? Have you ever been there? 

    • Anonymous says:

      So if we quit eating Turtle What effect would that have on the wild population? I will make a deal you give up chicken ( they are so beautiful ) and I will give up Turtle.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately you conflate two arguments and economic one (can we afford Bosun's Beach) and a WSPA/WAP one (turtles shouldn't be farmed for ethical reasons). While I may agree witht he first one I thumbs down your opening reasoning. So what if no one else is doing it? They're jsut out of step with us.  

    • Anonymous says:

      It means Cayman has a unique attraction which reflects its history and culture, dumbo. It is something of which to be proud, not ashamed.

      • Anonymous says:

        Culture?  Eating turtle is something of which you should be ashamed, it is up there on "cultural activities" with bull fighting and female genital mutilation.

        • Anonymous says:

          Ummm…do, I don't think so, and I won't be bullied into thinking so. If you don't want turtle, don't eat it. Better yet leave us in peace.  

  19. Anonymous says:

    BS! What a load! Now England wants to dictate who eats turtle meat?!? WTF else now.???

    • Anonymous says:

       07:45. Next we will all be told to eat fish and chips ,and lamb chops.Oh yea ,and don't forget a cuppa tea (tie as they say it,or tee as we say it)at three.

      • Anonymous says:

        Have you ever been to England ? Please tell me where you heard tea being pronounced as tie……idiot. Oh by the way, stop eating f@&?ing turtle you backward fool

         

        • Anonymous says:

          The poster learned all he knows about how the English speak from Dick van Dyke's performance in Mary Poppins.

      • Anonymous says:

        Tea is atfour. 

  20. Anonymous says:

    Good start.  But a ban on all food sales would be much better.  

  21. Anonymous says:

    GOOD>  More for my Sunday dinner.