Iconic animal deserves better

As your Jan. 24 editorial “Defending Cay’s National Dish” points out, endangered green sea turtles are an important part of Cayman’s heritage and culture. But I disagree that the Cayman Turtle Farm’s continued cultivation of a market for turtle meat is the way forward for Cayman, the farm, or our country’s turtle population.

The survey to be conducted by the Department of Environment and funded by the U.K. government is a critical and positive measure: Only by conducting an in-depth study of the true local demand for turtle meat can the Cayman Islands government honestly and effectively assess the farm’s future, especially since, as your editorial acknowledges, the farm costs the public around 10 million tax dollars a year in subsidies.

The recent steps announced jointly by the government and by the World Society for the Protection of Animals — including consideration of ways to reduce the promotion of turtle meat to international tourists, the aforementioned study analyzing current local demand for turtle meat, and the suspension of the farm’s annual turtle release program until the study’s results are available — should be celebrated.

I’m grateful and heartened that the government is now taking real action with the potential to greatly benefit turtles.

The Cayman Turtle Farm is the last facility in the world that farms endangered sea turtles for meat — and the turtles in the farm’s care live in severely overcrowded and unsuitable conditions. Our iconic animal deserves better from us. We must do all we can to truly protect this wonderful species.

Tanya Streeter