Animal charity and farm fail to agree on report

| 08/04/2013

Turtle flipper (243x300).jpg(CNS): Hopes of a possible working relationship between the World Society for Protection of Animals and the Cayman Turtle Farm have been dashed after the charity said Monday that talks between the parties have broken down as the farm refuses to recognise the animal welfare problems caused by its intensive farming operation. Having spearheaded a major international campaign to persuade the Turtle Farm to begin moving away from farming to a facility committed purely to conservation, the animal activists said that the CTF management wants the charity to renounce the findings of its year-long investigation and accept the farm's recent inspection report as “authoritative”.

Standing by WSPA’s evidence, Campaign Leader Dr Neil D’Cruze said the WSPA had hoped the farm’s recently self-commissioned report would provide a scientific basis for on-going discussion, but the charity said it lacked detail and was not broad enough to be treated as an authoritative piece of work.

“WSPA’s animal welfare concerns are based on robust evidence that demonstrates commercial sea turtle farming is cruel and inhumane. We see no reason to deny what we have already proven through scientific evidence,” he said. “WSPA cannot treat the Farm's report authoritatively as it only looks at the symptoms of poor welfare rather than the causes. Even if the Farm was to fulfil every one of the report’s recommendations, turtles would still suffer and the same problems wouldcontinue to re-occur”.

Having reviewed the report, the WSPA said in an official statement that it was not an authoritative piece of work that could serve as the basis for on-going constructive dialogue as the charity had significant concerns regarding the scientific and technical calibre of the report.

While the inspectors are recognized experts in the field of sea turtle biology, their report lacks the level of detail required for the reader to confirm that the report’s findings represent an accurate and unbiased reflection of the CTF’s operation.

No details are provided regarding how the panel assessed the CTF’s operation and there are concerns of bias as several of the inspectors have had prior and on-going collaborations with the farm.

“The WSPA feels that the independent nature of the inspection, subsequent report and recommendations within can be legitimately called into question,” it stated. “There are several key findings that contradict evidence collated via our own on-going in-depth investigation into the CTF and its operating methods.

"The WSPA challenges statements made in the report that there are ‘no significant issues of concern in the public facing aspect of the operation, that the handling of animals by guests raises no concerns or that there is 'strong evidence for the positive conservation impact of the CTF’.”

The WSPA has published photographic evidence of animal health and welfare concerns, such as inadequate captive conditions, stereotypic behaviours, injuries and disease in the public facing area of its operation.

The charity also notes that the report’s recommendations are aimed at addressing the symptoms rather than the root causes and, despite the CTF’s best efforts, severe animal welfare concerns will remain. The recommendations are fundamentally flawed, the WSPA states, as they are based on the false assumption that the green sea turtles housed at the CTF represent domesticated animals when there is no proof that there has a change in their phenotypical expression or genotype that enables them to cope better in intensive captive conditions than their wild counterparts.

Although the farm has not yet become a campaign issue, as there still remains broad support locally for breeding turtles to eat, the WSPA is still hopeful that the new Government will re-evaluate the future of the Cayman Turtle Farm for the sake of the green sea turtles as well as the Caymanian tax-payer.

The most recent annual reports from the farm re-confirmed the continuing subsidies to the tune of almost $10 million per annum that is being pumped into the farm because of on-going losses.

See full statement below.

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  1. SKEPTICAL says:

    It is incredible that Tim Adam, lovely man that he is, can attempt to justify managing an operation that needs $10 MILLION in subsidies, just to keep the doors open.
    Can you imagine him asking Cable & Wireless for $10miilion a year in subsidies, in the old days when he was MD, so that they could maintain their telephone, telex, and fax services ?

    • Anonymous says:

      What is truly incredible is the obvious absence of governance. Timmy and his team are systematically creating a horrible PR night mare as they throw weight around they don’t have.
      How can central government sit on their hands for months now and remain silent while one of its businesses carry on an international dialogue which makes us look stupid.
      Governance is what must be a major platform plank of the incoming government.
      Every school child listening over the years knows we CANNOT afford this amusement park McKeeva gave Bayers. That said, not matter the sordid past, what are we prepared to do to right the balance sheet?
      We believe that anything we do must be world class! Sadly that means world class show, not world class excellence in quality, management, relevancy and key to all this sustainability.
      Tourism yells come to the sea sun and sand, oh yeah food too. Turtle Farm people yell,come just know that we are kinda ignorant and not listening to anyone except our closed room chatter.
      Yeah folks Governance , integrity, transparency and a national outcomes focus, if we don’t start moving towards this road we are finished.
      Right now the media noises on Cayman are just a litany of negative, labelled now as a back water establishment. This is what we have come to.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Apparently you can only understand the science once you understand the culture and heritage.

  3. anonymous says:

    dolphin discovery only pays US $6 per head for entrance to Turtle Farm

    the restof the country pays $10 –  why should a privately owned company get preferrential treatment at the detrement of the turtle farm? and the people of cayman?


    not even land and sea coop can get that special price – and land and sea is comprised of caymanian boat and bus operators

    why do the people of cayman have subsidize dolphin discovery?

    lights shine some light on this !!!

    this is why the rich get richer – pure sweet heart deals –

    • Anonymass says:

      Because they also pay rental fees.

      Because its a 'package deal'.

      That is why. Now discuss if you agree with the why, or why not.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Shut the turtle farm down!  Use the 10,000,000 dollars on something to benefit the Caymanian people, not the people running the turtle farm.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why spend the money on someone else? Everyone in Cayman seems to think the government is a piggybank for them to spend. How about shutting the farm, saving the subsidy and using the proceeds to pay off the debt. After that you can think about who the government should spend money on.