More than 54 per cent of the 682 respondents to last week’s cayCompass.com online poll want to see an end to the farming of turtles for meat in Cayman.
Asked what they thought should be done with the Cayman Turtle Farm, the largest segment of respondents – 252 people or 37 per cent – said it should be closed, the turtles released into the wild and the land sold.
“The time to end the Turtle Farm is now, not just because people here are eating endangered species, but also because Cayman can’t afford to continue losing tens of millions of dollars on it,” said one person.
“The turtle prison is an embarrassment and shows Caymanians to be cruel, thoughtless people who care for nothing else but their right to eat an endangered species just because their forefathers did,” said someone else. “Besides, the prison breeding programme is a rich man’s game, and Cayman is anything but rich.”
“Seriously?” asked another person. “We’re going to continue to subsidise the Turtle Farm so that 10 per cent of the population can eat turtle once a week?”
“This is the only option,” commented on respondent. “Surely we can’t keep these brilliant animals in captivity any longer. Use the land for something more positive that reflects Cayman’s culture.”
Another 118 people – 17.3 per cent – thought the Turtle Farm should remain open, but that it should stop slaughtering turtles for meat.
“There is no need to kill a threatened species like turtles for meat,” said one person. “There is so much other meat you can eat that does not come from a threatened species and doesn’t take years to raise before slaughter. Stop killing the turtles!”
“Make it into a serious research and conservation facility,” said another respondent.
“It should be kept for breading turtles only and releasing them all into the sea,” said someone else. “Close the farm as it is, but open it as a sanctuary where turtles are actually released if they are likely to survive,” commented one person.
Another large segment of respondents – 215 people or 31.5 per cent – thought there should be no changes at all to the Turtle Farm as it was part of Cayman’s culture.
“While I believe the Turtle Farm should be kept, it should be scaled down and sold off to a private concern with the country paying off its debts,” said one person.
“We love the Turtle Farm the way it is,” said someone else. “My kid loves to get in the water and play with baby turtles and enjoys the water slide and swimming in the fresh water.”
“Why do we always have to allow other people to come in and change our culture?” asked someone else. “Do I go over to America and tell them to stop bull riding because I think it’s inhumane?”
“Save the Turtle Farm in case there is a world shortage of food,” said another respondent. “We need the turtles to feed the population if there is a crisis.”
“I’m an expat-Caymanian and this is another cultural area that we have no business trying alter,” commented one person. “Assist in improving yes, but don’t try to impose our beliefs.”
“Keep the whole thing, but greatly improve living conditions for turtles and have less of them crammed together,” said someone else. “The tourist area must be super well maintained and lower the entry fee.”
Fifty-four people – 7.9 per cent – thought the Turtle Farm should be closed as a tourist attraction, but it should continue being farmed for meat.
“The business model needs to change,” said one person. “The prices are too high.”
“Close the tourist attraction part, but keep the turtle farm for meat for Caymanians,” said someone else.
Another 43 people – 6.3 per cent – responded “other” to the question, with many people suggesting privatisation.
“Change it to a ecological park with a summer camps for kids,” suggested one person.
“Bring in a team that can run the attraction and meat farm as two separate enterprises successfully,” said someone else.
“Release all the turtles, close it down and re-open it as a water attraction with more slides, a water park, play areas and a good place for people to go for a good day out,” said another respondent.
“Keep it,” said someone else. “Its original intent was to protect the endangered turtle from over-fishing and it still achieves that objective.”
“Fix the inhumane and unhygienic conditions the turtles have to live under,” said one person.
“Bring the standard up to par with international regulations and lease to private investors,” said another respondent. “It’s too valuable a source of employment and culture to be disposed of.”
Next week’s poll question
What do you think should be done with Cayman Airways?
Nothing; the operating losses are worth it
It should be sold and privatised completely
A minority stake should be sold to a private entity
It should be shut down
Other (write in comments)