Turtle Farm stands by commissioned report

| 09/04/2013

1012822 (285x300)_0.jpg(CNS): Following a statement by animal activist group, the WSPA, Monday, expressing its disapproval of a report commissioned by the Cayman Turtle Farm regarding the various welfare concerns at the facility the management said Tuesday it believes the findings are valid and based on the expert opinion of qualified scientists. The CTF said the report was independent and followed an intensive inspection of the facility in the wake of concerns raised by the animal welfare charity last year. The CTF said it has asked the WSPA to accept the report as a basis for dialogue but it has refused and the farm’s managing director said this was preventing the two parties from moving forward.

“The difficulty with trying to engage in a dialogue with WSPA is finding an agreeable direction for dialogue to proceed toward. WSPA proposed that CTF must stop visitors touching or holding turtles, and that CTF must stop farming turtles for meat,” he said. “Neither of those are end-goals that CTF is in a position to negotiate, as they would each be contrary to CTF’s remit to provide a highly attractive unique visitor experience and to provide a source of farmed turtle meat which preserves Caymanian culinary traditions and helps to preserve turtles in the wild. We believe however that pursuing the recommendations of the inspection report would have been a very worthy objective for our dialogue to be aiming towards.”

As part of the report the inspectors made some recommendations for improvement, which the CTF has said it is now working on but the Farm and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) have some fundamental disagreements. The charity rejects the legitimacy of the independent review on a number of grounds. Although they recognize the authors of the report as experts in the field of sea turtle biology they are concerned about the lack of detail and explanation in the report to back their conclusions. In addition, they suggest some bias but the CTF said none of the scientists who are “credible, conscientious internationally-recognized experts,” have been paid by the Farm.

The impasse also focuses on the CTF’s position that it will not accept the findings of the WSPA on which it has based its campaign to turn the farm into a conservation facility and move away from farming. The CTF said the WSPA report was based on limited observation and second-hand reports, despite extensive photographic evidence.

The WSPA claims that the independent inspection report “lacked detail and was not broad enough to be treated as an authoritative piece of work” – however, CTF points out that the same can be said of the WSPA research. The CTF believes that the methods the charity used in its case study are incomplete, as their research in Cayman was verylimited and conducted as part of an “undercover investigation” without the cooperation of the CTF.

The CTF said the four experts who produced the independent report were given full access to the Turtle Farm, its staff and records, and were able to take time to inspect the turtles in all the tanks both on the public display side and the “production” side of the farm. “Unlike the WSPA, the inspectors were not relying on clandestine practices or on photographs to try and give some interpretation of the actual situation with the turtles at the farm,” the farm said.

“These respected scientists were not going to risk their professional reputations by making a report that they were not confident had solid basis in facts that they could inspect for themselves,” Adam added.

Meanwhile, the farm is now pursuing the recommendations and issues highlighted by the report. It said the recruitment of a full-time Veterinarian and a Farm Manager is imminent and it has implemented a different type of treatment for skin lesions with very encouraging results. It has also adjusted feeding protocols to rectify what is said was moderate emaciation observed in some turtles and has increased hatchling tank capacity through the completed construction of additional hatchling tanks in time for the upcoming breeding season.

Necropsies are also being performed on turtle mortalities and tissue samples are banked for future pathology work. It is anticipated that this work will be done by CTF’s in-house veterinarian and through arrangements with overseas experts. As a long-term measure to continue improvements and evaluate the success of the Farm, a Scientific Advisory Committee is now being set up to oversee, review and make recommendations on the CTF’s improvement goals, farming and research operations.

However, the fundamental issue that is between the farm and the charity is that of animal welfare and the fact that turtles are not domesticated animals. The WSPA will be stepping back up its campaign for the Cayman and the international community to put pressure on the farm management and local politicians to put an end to the farming itself and move towards conservation only AT THE FACILITY.

Wth almost no political support for closing down the farming part of the operation and a continuing appetite for turtle meat the WSPA’s goal remains elusive regardless of its efforts and considerable international support.

Although the CTF sucks in some $10million of public money and is something of a political football, this surrounds the expansion of the farm into a wider tourist attraction which has been a costly exercise. The farming of meat is not the source of the financial losses at the facility which is caused by lower than hoped for visitor numbers to the now more costly attraction.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Science and Nature

About the Author ()

Comments (9)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Environmental groups fail to see that people from the Cayman Islands have historically eatin turtle meat for substanance and survival.  In farming turtles for meat, the CTF is preventing turtles from being hunted and killed in the wild, where the potential for the killing of a pregnant female for example is possible, or the killing of turtles returning to the beach to breed.  These actions would be incredibily harmful for the sea turtle population, farming turtles for meat in a controlled environment helps to reduce or eliminate these problems.  The issue with some environmental groups like WSPA  is that they disregard the traditional eating/hunting habits of indiginous peoples that have been practiced for hundreds of years.  I beleive the turtle farm does a lot of good for sea turtles and should consider to do so, regardless of claims from groups or extremists.



  2. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians need to declare WSPA as a bias environmental group. Paul McCartney hasn't been to Cayman to see the Turtle farm. They have issues in the EU about horsemeat which makes up 5% of there beef. Cattle beef is mixed with horsemeat. Go and see real cattle farms in europe they are inhumane in Europe , USA, and most first world countries of the world.

    We must try and sell turtle meat, leather , shell and oil . We only need to get CITES certificate for approval. The FCO should be able to help. We need to save revenue. There is no doubt that the turtle farm can be profitable if all the players play fair. Indonesia sells turtle oil they just don't call it that in english. They have CITES approval. Lets go candidates. Its part of our culture.

  3. Anonymous says:

    i found my one and only visit to the turtle farm as disturbing…..

    i encourage everybody with a conscience and brain to boycott it….

  4. Anonymous says:

    Cayman Turtle Farm has been good for wild turtles over the past decades.

    We know that some of the released turtles returned healthy to lay eggs on our beaches.

    Cayman Turtle Farm has positevly benefitted the world green turtle population, and that is good.

    Yes, McKeeva and his gang wasted millions and millions of dollars and made millions and millions of tax payer money from the contracts in the crazy idea to make the turtle farm into Sea World.  Cruise dock or no cruise dock in West Bay the "Sea World" foolishness will continue to be a drain of tax payer money.

    Get back to what worked before, a true turtle farm.  Cut the "Sea World" foolishness losses close this part down.

    Get back to the real turtle farm.




    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed, it is not the Turtle Farm that is draining the coffers. It is that stupid political baby called Boatswain Beach. Who in the hell builds pools for people to swim in on an island that has some of the worlds best beaches?!!!

      The turtle farm not only slaughters but releases turtles as well. I noticed that the story in the paper did not generate much buzz (the article that spoke of the thousands of turtles that were released int the pass).

      I understand that before I moved here a hurricane caused a great deal of damage and set the farm back. However, they are rebuilding the stock.

      The farm is a good thing, people around the world eat many things. Regardless of what it is, if they didn't farm it there wouldn't be much left for future consumption.

      At last the turtle farm is releasing as well as slaughtering.

      I say keep the farm and get rid of the rest of the foolishness that goes on down there!

      • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

        I agree. All residents should continue supporting the Turtle Farm and reject the extreme views of WSPA regarding consumption of turtle meat and visitors.

  5. Anonymous says:

    We need to produce on own petition. Its time now.