Wildlife charity hopeful for turtle farm change

| 25/07/2013

(CNS): A spokesperson for the World Society for the Protection of Animals said it had a cordial and realistic meeting with the new government this week when two of its members came to discuss the issues regarding the increasingly controversial and costly turtle farm. Although the WSPA and the CIG remain divided on the substantive issue of breeding turtles for meat, Neil DaCruz said that both he and CEO Mike Baker enjoyed a more positive meeting with the new Cabinet, who listened to some of the proposals to address the myriad issues at the Farm. Although no agreements have been reached, the activists believe that the CIG is keen to make changes that would stop the facility draining $10 million from the public purse each year.

Numbers at the Cayman Turtle Farm are believed to have reached 9,000 animals but the facility it is still haemorrhaging cash. In the emergency interim budget passed in the LA last month following the election, the finance minister was forced to allocate CI$2.5 million to support the farm.

DaCruz said that the new minister for the environment, the director of the DoE, the environmental health minister, the minister for planning and the tourism minister met with him and Baker this week and were prepared to discuss some of the problems.

“We have opened a more positive channel of communication, and while we understand the fundamental issue of supplying the local population with meat is not going to be discussed at this stage, the new government listened and discussed some of the other issues, such as handling, husbandry, the numbers and the head start programme,” Da Cruz said.

The activist said that at this stage the WSPA understands that the need to breed meat for the local population was not something that they expected would be a matter for discussion. But, he said, government was willing to listen to ideas about reducing the numbers of turtles held at the facility and was open to consideration about the release programme and whether that was the best way to help with the conservation of wild turtles.

The activists have proposed that the CIG examine the market for meat and separate the local demand from that of tourists, which is believed to be very small in comparison, and perhaps introduce a ban on the sale of meat to visitors.

Da Cruz said that for the first time the WSPA were not simply dismissed as agitators and that their concerns were listened to, especially as the government is also looking for a way to address the problems at the facility.

While changing the cultural position on allowing the local consumption of meat may be some time away, DaCruz and Baker are hopeful of improving current husbandry conditions, reducing the numbers at the farm and a review of the farm’s release programme, known as head starting, he said.

The WSPA published a damning report about conditions at the CTF last year, whichstirred up considerable controversy when documentary evidence of poor conditions at the facility were dismissed. The report also came in the wake of the loss of hundreds of turtles due to technical problems. Despite photographs showing evidence of cannibalism, disease, birth defects polluted water and overcrowded conditions, the CTF went on the defensive and attacked the activists rather than addressing the fundamental problems at the farm. Although the farm pressed its conservation credentials and undertook its own report, which led to some positive changes, many of the concerns raised by the WSPA remain.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Close turtle farm down, open poaching and criminalize those who want to eat turtle meat…. morons….

    I can't stand self rigeous sanctimonious vegan freaks. 

    Humans are omnivors, our dental anatomy PROVES this unarguably.  That means that we are SUPPOSED to eat other animals indescriminately.  As advanced mamals we have learned to farm the animals we eat and also learned to cull the aminals in the wild.  We run into population declines in the wild WHEN: We do not farm the animal and our consumption exceeds the rate at which the species can reproduce OR: The species can no longer adapt to its environmental conditions (naturally or unnaturally) OR: natural extinction.

    Anyone with any common sense AT ALL, will realize this quickly.


    We can do something about condition 1 and sometimes condition 2.  We can FARM!

    If the argument is that the farm is loosing money fine! But of the argument is to illegalize the farming of an eatable species, that is sickening sanctimonuous psychobabble. Which is preceisely what is going on here.  Who the #@$#$#@ are they!??

    So Paul McCarney and his entourage of foaming at the mouth vegan liberals can stay the F@#$#$# out of this country.



  2. Rock Iguana says:

    Government should enact a Turtle Farm Tax that is attached to the earnings of every government and private sector employee in the islands.

    Then you would see who really feels strongly about keeping this white elepant going.


    We can't afford it. End of story.



  3. JTB says:

    Cayman can't afford the turtle farm any longer. It serves only as a grotesquely expensive welfare programme for some unemployable West Bayers. Time to get rid.

    • Knot S Smart says:

      I agree – time to get rid of the West Bayers…

      For the rest of us it is like carrying an elephant on our backs…

  4. The Thinker says:

    There are 10,000,000 reasons for shutting down the turtle farm.  Has the blowing of $10,000,000 a year ever been investigated?  How can that much money be spent on 9000 turtles?  That's over $1000 per turtle per year!  Pretty expensive turtle meat!  Just how much pay goes to the head honchos out there?  I believe I read where one was sort of a shady character who was in some kind of money shuffling.   Of course, that might not be factual, but c'mon, is turtle meat worth that much?  If so, then let the people buying the turtle meat pay that amount and stop taking the public's money to subsidize this operation.  Does anyone on the outside know how much money is taken in from admission fees and sales at the turtle farm?  Does the government have a clue?  Do you think robberies from individuals and thefts from homes in Grand Cayman are bad???  I don't think they would add up to $10,000,000 per year.


    • Anonymous says:

      Let's be clear: it doesn't take $10m p.a. to raise 9,000 turtles. In the 1990s we had many more turtles and the farm turned a small profit each year. No subsidy required. It all has to do with the white elephant called Boatswain's Beach which was started by 'you know who'.  

  5. Anonymous says:

    WSPA speak with forked tongues.

    'We're not discussing stopping eating turtles' / 'maybe we can ban some people (tourists) from eating turtle'.

    'We're not discussing shuttng down the farm' / 'we're duscussing reducing the number of turtles at the farm' (and hoping that people have forgotten that the farm's numbers were/are so low that they had to raise prices to try and drive down demand to a sustainable level – resulting in the uptick in poaching events as reported regularly in the media over the last few turtle seasons)

    Don't trust a word they say. Its either spin (everyone wants to reduce the cost of the farm, everyone wants better husbandry practices, etc. – and wanted that before WSPA showed up and attacked Cayman with its online adds) or 'thin edge of the wedge'. Just because they've decided to 'speak softly' this time doesn't mean they're still not willing to threaten our tourism product with anti-Cayman advertising aimed at cruiseship passengers considering going to the Farm. That will help the Farm's balance sheet, right?

  6. Anonymous says:

    close it down…it's a disturbing , vile mess….and loss making aswell….

  7. Anonymous says:

    My concern is the welfare of turtles in the wild. By-catch in trowling nets continue to be a real a serious problem for many species in the ocean. It was only yesterday that CNS posted an article concerning a "ghost net".

    Even worse are those nets attached to boats that drag them across miles of ocean, killing everything in its way.

    I am afraid that if not one more turtle was slaughtered for local consumption and all released into the wild, they will still be facing a uphill battle.

    The WORLD has to change its tollerance towards these countries that rape the oceans with these death nets. Although I have never had turtle on a plate, I respect the local custom of the people in the Caymans, and can honestly say that the death of the Green Sea Turtle is not going to be caused by farming and harvesting of them, but by the reckless miss-management of the oceans.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good opinion. But please there is no The Caymans. We are The Cayman Islands. If you do not agree then please take a trip to The Virgins.

      • Anonymous says:

        "The Caymans" is a perfectly acceptable term.  It refers to Grand Cayman and the Lesser Caymans which together comprise the Caymans.

        • Anonymous says:

          No it isn't acceptable. The British Isles are not "The Britishes", the Channel Islands are not "The Channels", the Virgin Islands are not "The Virgins", the Hawai'ian Islands are not "The Hawai'is", the Caribbean Islands are not "The Caribbeans" and we do not live in "The Caymans". 

      • Anonymous says:

        Or "The Channels"

  8. noname says:

    Seems like the WSPA is getting some education on the reality of the fact that the Cayman Turtle Farm began as and is stil first and foremost a conservation effort.  Without the Cayman Turtle Farm and Laws prohibiting the taking of wild Turtles from the sea, our Turtle population may have ceased to exist long ago.

    Maybe now they can focus their efforts on true trouble areas of the world such as Madagascar where poaching and armed theft have pushed unique species of Tortoises to the bring of extinction and Costa Rica where conservationist are murdered for their efforts to protect the species there.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Eating turtles is a disgrace.  There is nothing "cultural" about behaving this way.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ok, your opinion is noted. Now move on…

    • Anonymous says:

      That is your opinion, you are entitled to it, except that you can only say that in your opinion it is disgusting..not make general statements…for some people turtle is a way of life like roast beef and yorkshire pud may be for you..and you would soon get pissed off if somebody told you that was disgusting. For example most indians would…does that make them wrong and you right, or is it all about respect of culture?

    • Anonymous says:

      Eating chickens, cows, ducks, lambs, pheasants, moose, squid, fish, elk, turkeys, etc etc is also a disgrace???….didnt think so. Silly post.

      • Anonymous says:

        You're dealing with a bunch of low information emotional idiots, void of any common sense.  So trying to make a logical argument with the intention of enlightening some of these posteris a futile endeavour.

    • Knot Sir Prysed says:

      So is eating horse in some people's eyes, but half of Europe does it…  And cows are sacred in india but no doubt a staple in your western diet.  When in Rome, at least respect the culture of the Romans!!!

    • Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      Hey meet me at Country tomorrow and let's talk about that over lunch 🙂

    • Anonymous says:

      So is eating a cow but nobody fights for them. Different strokes for different folkes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Go Home!

    • Anonymous says:

      Being a moron is a disgrace.  There is nothing "cultural" about being a racist and xenophobic towards caribbean culture.

      By the way did you know it is well documented before the Cayman Islands were permanantly settled, the earliest historical records show that European sailors of various nationalities were the first to land on the islands, then turn the turtles over on their backs before killing and salting the turtles for food for their long voyage back to "Civilization"?  Get some education before you spout off.

    • Anonymous says:

      You're a disgrace. Have some respect for your hosts in their own country.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hear hear.  It is barbaric.