Today’s Editorial for March 26: Turtle thefts hurt us all

The news that people are climbing the fence at Boatswain’s Beach to steal turtles is disturbing.

And it’s wrong.

In essence, when someone steals maturing turtles from the farm – either to sell them or eat them – they are stealing from the country as a whole.

It is unfortunate that the Turtle Farm finds itself in a position to be limiting the amount of turtle being sold for consumption.

The move is necessary if we are to maintain our tradition of eating turtle meat.

The breeding stock at the Turtle Farm isn’t in great shape and if things continue on the current course, the farm won’t have enough turtle meat to satisfy demand.

Workers at the farm are struggling with ways to fix the breeding stock problem, but the solution won’t be a quick fix.

In the meantime we should all do our part to ensure turtles in the Cayman Islands don’t go the way of the many crocodiles once here.

The turtle farm, while it provides some meat for local cook pots, relieves pressure on the wild population by satisfying the demand for turtle meat. When the farm’s production is curtailed – for whatever reason – there is more demand for meat from wild turtles.

It’s not just the supply of meat that is in harm’s way. With fewer turtles reproducing there will be fewer young turtles to be returned to the wild in the farm’s turtle release programme.

Those who are deliberately breaking in and stealing turtles are adding insult to injury.

They may be making a quick dollar by stealing the turtles, butchering and selling the meat, but they are doing a vast disservice to this country and future generations of Caymanians.

Those buying illegal turtle meat are just adding to the escalating problem; they are just as guilty as the thieves.

The Green Sea Turtle has become inseparable from the Cayman Islands.

It is on our coat of arms, on our national airline and is the logo of our Department of Tourism.

Right now the Turtle Farm is the only link we have to the first sightings of Christopher Columbus and his crews when they ventured upon our shores. Turtles were so plentiful that the explorer called the islands Las Tortugas.

Columbus was more than likely be appalled at the fact that we have almost killed out the turtle population here.

If we don’t do something now to ensure future stocks of turtles the generations that come behind us will have nothing but memories of our heritage with the Green Sea Turtle.

Those who are deliberately breaking in and stealing turtles are adding insult to injury.

They may be making a quick dollar by stealing the turtles, butchering and selling the meat, but they are doing a vast disservice to this country and future generations of Caymanians.

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