Turtle Farm says review is independent

The Cayman Turtle Farm on Wednesday fired back against an international animal rights group that accused the farming operation of essentially rigging a review of the facility conducted between 10-12 December in its favour. 

“The primary goal of the independent assessment … is to determine whether standards of care meet those required to ensure that the operation is conducted in a ‘humane manner’,” a Turtle Farm statement released Wednesday 
evening noted.  

The World Society for the Protection of Animals, or WSPA, was the agency that initially undertook a covert investigation at the Turtle Farm finding what the agency stated was evidence of Salmonella and E. Coli contamination in the turtle tanks, evidence of cruel and inhumane treatment and evidence of high mortality rates and some birth defects among the turtle population. The group stated from the outset that it is generally opposed to harvesting of turtle meat for commercial sale. 

The WSPA’s Neil D’Cruze recently indicated his organisation’s “extreme concern” about the independent review the Turtle Farm is undertaking, particularly its intention to compare the operation to 
“intensive livestock farming”.  

“Green sea turtles are not domesticated animals and so should not be compared to standards, which are meant to be applied to animals which are,” Mr. D’Cruze wrote in an e-mail responding to Turtle Farm Managing Director Tim Adam last month.  

Mr. D’Cruze also indicated that the Turtle Farm’s independent reviewers were not identified by name and that none of them appeared to have a background in “animal welfare”.  

Wednesday’s statement indicated the Turtle Farm’s view that there are no ways to compare the Cayman Turtle Farm to any other operation in the world, since it is the only sea turtle farming facility that exists.  

“The WSPA takes issue with this, arguing that the turtle is not a domesticated species,” the Turtle Farm statement read. “However, neither were pigs, cows or chickens – until they were, in fact, farmed and domesticated.”  

The Turtle Farm also responded by saying that the four individuals selected to perform the review at the facility were independent experts that had never been paid by the Cayman Islands government in the past. The experts performing the review include:  

George Balazs is a sea turtle scientist with 40 years of professional experience in Hawaii, the Pacific Islands and globally. He has published more than 100 journal papers on sea turtles. He has been a member of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group since 1976 and is the group’s vice chairman for the Pacific Islands Region. In 2002, the leading conservation organisation in the United States, the National Wildlife Federation, honoured Mr. Balazs with its National Conservation Achievement Award for exemplary leadership in protecting wildlife and natural resources. He recently completed a three-year term on an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, which ensures that animal welfare is humanely addressed. In March 2012, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Sea Turtle Symposium.  

Dr. Annette Broderick is a senior lecturer in conservation biology. She has been researching marine turtle populations for more than 20 years, with much of her work focusing on the British Overseas Territories, including the Cayman Islands. Her research focuses on the conservation and monitoring of marine turtle populations, in particular reproductive investment; impacts of temperature on hatchling production; migration and navigation of adults and the management of marine turtle harvests. She is a member of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group.  

Dr. Thierry Work is a veterinarian and a wildlife disease expert with 20 years of professional experience in Hawaii, the Pacific Islands and globally on diseases of sea turtles. He is credited with more than 40 journal papers on sea turtles. He is a member of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group and the IUCN Wildlife Health Specialist Group.  

Professor Brendan Godley is a marine conservation scientist and qualified veterinarian who has been working on marine turtles around the world for more than 20 years. He is a member of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group. Professor Godley was selected by the United Kingdom Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to conduct an inspection in 2002 on the Cayman Turtle Farm. He also serves on the IUCN Veterinary Specialist Group, and the Turtle Implementation Group for the UK Biodiversity Action Plan for Marine Turtles. 

“We stand by our assertion that it would be less ‘independent’ to include a WSPA representative on the team, as this would introduce its own bias – as would including a member of the Cayman Turtle Farm staff on the review committee,” the Turtle Farm statement noted. “For this reason, neither a WSPA representative nor a Cayman Turtle Farm representative are included on the team.” 

The review of the Turtle Farm operations is expected to be complete by the end of January. 

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Since you have lost all credibility already it is way too late to start a we are good campaign. But I understand you have to spend the 10 million a year bonus on something.

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  2. Cayman really needs to stand up to these international bullies wanting to regulate the water we fish in, the air we breath and how much carbon emission we should be taxed for. It start this way.

    The turtle farm has absolutely no repercussion whatsoever on the natural habitat of the turtle in the wild. Since it doesn’t they now have to find some other reason to close it down. The reason for this is -because of the type of people we are dealing with and their ideology- Once we understand there there is -no- tolerance to -any- form of turtles farming, we will understand that these studies are irrelevant because they will ultimately always reject it. you are dealing with an ideology and a mindset of the international self appointed/important do-gooders here, not at all about a set of farming circumstances. they don’t want a turtle farm under Any circumstances. Period.

    These types radical ecowackos will not stop merely at the turtle farm. They over years will then seek to push for limits on fishing, conchs, lobsters, then the cows to strive for their prized glory of becoming a world of non-meat eating bunch of lip quivering vegans.

    Next if you haven’t already, you will hear that eating tuna will now kill you, and your entire family if you eat too much of it (soon it will be if you eat at all), mercury poisoning blah blah blah and therefore it should be banned, then it will be mackerel etc. The main reason this fear mongering hasn’t been so loud in Cayman is because we don’t actively fish it commercially. But those same bunch of radicals are trying to prevent tuna fishing across the world for the same exact reason they want to stop the turtle farm. This is not new and definitely not centric to Cayman. These people are international eco-radical and bullies.

    Once one comes to terms with that, then how to respond to those people should become clearer. Kick them the #% out or obey them and their ideology.

    And make no mistake, many of these type of mindset people are here living in Cayman pushing for this sort of thing.

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  3. AJ, your comment includes the statement They over years will then seek to push for limits on fishing, conchs, lobsters, then the cows to strive for their prized glory of becoming a world of non-meat eating bunch of lip quivering vegans.

    As a young Caymanian who is also an Environmental Studies major, I am all for fishing limits.

    My generation has to hear about how many crabs there USED to be, how you USED to be able to come up with conchs by the dozens in areas where there are none now… Without fishing limits this trend will continue.

    Why people believe that treating our natural resources with reverence means we cannot progress or develop is beyond me. It has been proven again and again that these things are not mutually exclusive. After all, in the 1800s air pollution in the US was out of control, soot covered cities and rivers were on fire as a result of toxic sludge produced by burning coal. The Clean Air Act changed that and the US continued to grow industrially and economically. There is no reason that taking care of the environment means stifling growth. Everyone in Cayman who still thinks so needs to reevaluate their thinking.

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  4. Man creates 2 children on average per 76 years. Man has many enemies to keep that from happening . Not enough good hospitals, good food, good drinking water, a healthy environment, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, ebola, hiv aids any way I hope you get my point. We are over 7 billion people on this planet. How can there not be more turtles on this planet then prior to the past ? There has been laws from the 80’s all across the globe to ban people from killing turtles. How can the leatherback come back from endangered species ? Then why not the rest ? Green sea turtles are found on 40% of the planet. It makes mathematical sense that they too are no longer endangered. Turtles average 150 eggs up to 10 times per year, If only 500 are the average and only 30% make it to adult life then man has achieved success.
    If one goes to the coast of Central America from Mexico to Panama to the coast of South America in Venezuela people are still hunting and poaching turtles more now then they ever have before. Would it not be common sense to say that turtle farming is the way of the future? If there were no cattle farming would there be any cows??

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  5. Oh, dear. 4dafuture, really?

    Humankind has grown so, therefore, the turtle population must have also increased?

    I’m sorry, I missed the history lesson that was supposed to teach me about when turtles got hospitals, when their predators were eliminated, when they became able to buy their food sources in supermarkets.

    Common sense is obviously a facet you claim without having any actual mastery of.

    Wherever you have got your statistics from, they are incorrect and reveal nothing but your ignorance of the situation at hand.

    I apologise if I seem disrespectful, I do not mean to. The fact of the matter is, though, that I am very passionate about this issue. It is this kind of outdated thinking that is going to lead to me having to explain to my great-grandchildren what a turtle looked like rather than showing them while snorkelling, having to teach them how to clean conch from sustainable farms in Venezuela (indeed, I have bought from them before) rather than from our own waters, and having to explain how the arrogance and ignorance of a few small-minded men have cost them a lifetime of knowledge.

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