Cayman Turtle Farm undergoes review

| 11/12/2012

PhotoGallery2.jpg(CNS): An independent review of the Cayman Turtle Farm (CTF) began Monday, following worrying revelations by an animal activist group. A four member team, which includes vets and scientists but no animal welfare experts, will be at the site in West Bay until Wednesday, and their report is expected in January. The aim of the inspection is to determine whether standards of care meet those required to ensure that the operation is conducted in a “humane manner” and examine standards of husbandry. Although the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) uncovered a number of major concerns at the farm in a report published earlier this year, the animal welfare group has not been invited to take part in this review. The group raised concerns that the team of inspectors may be compromised.

The team includes Dr. Annette Broderick, a Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology who has worked with the Farm in the past, and Professor Brendan Godley, a marine conservation scientist and qualified vet. Mt. Godley has already conducted a review of the farm in the past, which may be what the WSPA has said could lead to bias.

In addition, the animal rights activists said that the reviewers are planning to compare the practices employed at the CTF with standards of practice in other “domestic livestock production facilities”.

However, the WSPA has said that, as green sea turtles are not domesticated animals, comparing their production with standards applied to intensive farmed chickens is inappropriate. It has also raised concerns that the welfare of turtles is not part of the review.

In correspondence with the WSPA recently, Tim Adam, managing director of the turtle farm, said that the inspectors are internationally known sea turtle experts and the farm believes they will conduct a fair inspection. 

Mr. Adam said, “It is important for the inspection team to maintain its independence and there would likely be a perception of bias if a representative of WSPA, which has campaigned against the CTF, were added.  Indeed none of our staff from the CTF will be on the inspection team, since that also would likely lead to the report being discredited as biased.”

Disappointed that it has been excluded from the “independent” review of the Farm and surprised that two of the participants in what is being billed as an “independent” review have close professional ties to the Cayman Turtle Farm, the WSPA said Monday that it had 'severe concerns' that the independence of the review is already compromised and that the welfare of the sea turtles will not be at the heart of this inspection.

“We don’t believe this is either in the best interests of the farm or will provide the Caymanian people with the independent assurances they are demanding, that the Farm is managing the turtles properly,” the WSPA said in a statement. “However we genuinely hope – in the interests of the turtles – to be proven wrong in this instance and that the farm will proceed with total transparency and move to involve, if not us, another leading world-renowned global animal welfare organisation with the expertise to usefully input in to this assessment.”

According to the terms of reference, the inspectors will examine: water quality; stocking densities; treatment and prevention of disease and injury; levels and causes of mortality; levels (if any) of severe injuries; levels (if any) of congenital deformities; handling of animals by guests (including safety of both animals and guests); slaughter methods and practice.

The scientists are also being asked to suggest any reasonable steps by which animal husbandry and care might be improved at thefarm and to comment on the contribution the CTF makes to conservation of turtle species. The terms of reference also indicate that the inspection will be made on the ‘basis of the standards of practice that would apply to a comparable intensive livestock production' in facilities in the UK or USA.

In his previous review of the old Cayman Turtle Farm site in 2002, Professor Godley had noted some concerns at the farm regarding the feed, diseases and mortality rates, but had stated that the standards were “sufficiently high” to meet CITES requirements.
CNS has contacted the CTF for comment regarding the questions surrounding the independence of the inspectors and the failure to include an animal welfare expert in the team, but is still awaiting a response.

See Prof Godfrey’s earlier report below and details of the review team.

See related story on CNS: Report-slams-turtle-farm


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  1. Anonymous says:

    Folks, when you post remarks, please use your spell check.

  2. BusProf says:

    The Cayman Turtle Farm is a FARM!  How farmers raise their animals is up to the farmers and when you start telling farmers how to run their business, you end up raising the cost of their product -usually to the point where people buy other food if they can.

    I am only a CTF fan as an educational/awareness facility.  I tried turtle during a Pirate week celebration and enjoyed the pork and chicken much more.  If each tourist that visits spends some money and learns about turtles, the CTF has madea difference for Cayman and for Turtles.

    As a business, it provides an attraction for tourists $$, jobs $, return on investment for the investors $, and sells some products $.  Keep listening to the animal cruelty groups and all this could go away.  People need to remember the order of things:  God, man, animals, plants, earth.  Not the other way around.

    • Anonymous says:

      What a load of emotional crap.

      There's not many FARM's that require us the public, to subsidise them to the tune of $10 million a year.

      Furthermore, whilst it may prove an 'attraction' of some sorts for tourists and sell 'some' products, it definitely does not generate either profit or return on investment for the investors.  Those who are aware of how the turtle farm survives, know its because we the country's taxpayers INVEST $10 million a year into it, yet see no return whatsoever from our investment.


  3. Animaliberator says:

    I hope the inspectors do not overlook the freezers and see how much turtle meat has been stock piled over the past few weeks. I'll bet they will not find any deformed or injured turtle in any tank they look at and turtle steak will be on special for Christmas.

  4. B. Onneste says:

    So who appointed these "inspectors"?

    • Loopy Lou says:

      It was necessary to appoint "inspectors" whose "understanding of culture and heritage" was more important than the welfare of the turtles.  It will be a rubber stamping PR exercise which means nothing.

  5. Anonymous says:

    only in cayman could the turtle farm order their own 'independent review'……………zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    welcome to wonderland

  6. Anonymous says:

    Are there standards for zoos that kill the animals to eat? That's what you have.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I went on a helicopter ride to Stingray City the other day and they flew low over the Turtle Farm.  It was plain to see that there really is serious overcrowding of turtles in these pools it was quite horrible to see them all packed in and struggling against each other to be able to swim.  Either shut the thing down or accept the WSPA's very kind offer of assistance in turning the Turtle Farm into aworld class conservation facility for turtles.

    • Anonymous says:

      WSPA's kind kick inthe teeth you mean. Overcrowding? Compared to what other commercial farm?

      • Anonymous says:

        The WSPA brought to light (with plentiful evidence I might add) what equates to cruelty and neglect at the Turtle Farm.  If that's a kick in the teeth well it only hurts if what they say is true.  Nobody is comparing this to any other commercial farm, but if we did, and the point you are making is similar overcrowding, then that would be equally cruel.  

        Contrary to others who I am sure will disagree, I am not saying Caymanians shouldn't eat turtle meat.  Even though I dislike it personally, I feel that I have to respect that they traditionally caught and eat turtle just as I have to respect that some French people eat horse meat, and some Chinese eat dogs, cats and even tigers.  But do you really want to eat something that is possibly diseased and/or deformed, is fed on fish food and lives in cramped conditions at a cost of approx $25 a pound to those who eat the meat and a cost of $10 million a year to the taxpayers of this country; or would you rather eat real turtle meat from turtles that swim in the sea freely, develop normally, without overcrowding, eating its natural diet of sea grass and the like at a much reduced cost andI am sure, much improved taste?  

        I am the first to say I don't know the implications, and perhaps its a dumb suggestion, but I 'd rather see a conservation facility at the Turtle Farm and locals given the ability to catch and eat turtles from the sea in seasons with limits as they do conch, whelk, lobster and the like, than see the current method of farming continue there.

        • Anonymass says:

          Yes, it is a dumb suggestion. There are not enough turtles in the sea for people to catch enough to meat local demand. Its why we had to go to a farm in the first place. (And if you think WSPA is bad try increasign wild turtle fishign and se how much bad press that gets us.) And, no, the Farm can't release enough to make up for what peopel would want to catch. It would have to be releasing thousands of hatchlings to get tens of adults and we would be eating hundreds of turtles that take a couple of decades to mature in the wild. So, no, suggesting that the farm release turtles to swim happily until caught is not a sustainable plan.

          No one is suggesting that the Farm doesn't have problems. Their own reviews in the past have shown this. (We are suggesting that the Farm ignored them.) However, regardign the overcrowding kick in the teeth, from the original poster, the point is that commercial farms overcrowd their stock. The point is that the turtle farm is equally as cruel as a pig or a chicken farm. Or a veal farm. Sorry if that makes you feel bad. But holding them to a double-standard is not fair. Farming is not hunting. (And remember we don't have enough turtles to hunt, at least not sustaianbly.)

          Regardign the costs, thats a seperate issue. But, remember that most of that money is goingto pay 'tourism driven overexpansion' at the farm. (Thats the nicest euphemism I can come up with.) The meat subsidy is much smaller. Remember, the old facility ran at about break even. The farm side providing them the stock to show the tourists which provided enough income to subsidise the loss they made on the meat. The problem has come with big loans for big plans that haven't paid off. Not the farrming.

      • Anonymous says:

        Has anyone checked out the Chiken farms in USA and UK?  If you would see them you would not even eat chicken again.  In Cayman, I see it that they allow any dog to fly in here and dictate to us what kind of toilet tissue to use.

        Sorry to say we do not have any Caymanians to speak up, they are all foreigners, and the few Caymanisns are so dumb that it aint funny anymore.

        • LoopyLou says:

          I am not sure what a "chiken" is, but my guess that "chikens" are not endangered species.  Given your mode of expression, my guess is that basic understanding of ecosystems is considerably beyond you, so I doubt your views should be taken that seriously.

          • Anonymous says:

            Chickens aren’t endangered BECAUSE they are farmed for human consumption! Ironically, the single most successful way to ensure the survival of a species is to farm them and eat them. Sad, I know, but true nonetheless… Now where can I get a plate of turtle stew today?

      • Animaliberator says:

        FYI – WSPA and many other organizations like it, perform under cover videos of many types of farms around the globe, not just here in Cayman. Therefore, you should not even attempt to make a comparison between the various species that are subject to cruelty and abuse which indeed takes place around the world and is exactly the reason why this is happening here too.


        Pretty simple but very important motivation to do this would't you say?