The debate and discussion about the Cayman Turtle Farm during the recent election is proof of concern about the facility amongst many Caymanians.
The World Society for the Protection of Animals recognises this concern must now be met with positive action to determine the future of the Farm’s 9,500 turtles and to address the burden that the Farm’s business model now places on the Caymanian economy.
The Cayman Turtle Farm has been struggling financially for years, never making sustainable profits under either public or private ownership, and more recently falling into receivership and amassing huge debts.
Sea turtle farming is unlikely to ever become profitable, or be seen as a good investment by a private owner. This does not mean the closure of the Cayman Turtle Farm, but rather a steady transition into a leading turtle rescue and rehabilitation centre: a centre of excellence for sea turtle conservation and eco-tourism – a potential jewel in Cayman’s crown.
The new Government will first need to establish true levels of local demand for turtle meat, which includes tourists buying turtle meat in restaurants.
Meat production could then be scaled down over a number of years, meeting the smaller but truer demand, reaching a point where sea turtle farming can eventually cease.
Continued unprofitability and further international criticism could negatively impact on the turtle population it was designed to protect.
World Society for the Protection of Animals Wildlife Campaign leader