A visiting British member of Parliament has called for more U.K. funding to be spent on researching and protecting unique wildlife in the Cayman Islands and other overseas territories.
Matthew Offord, a backbench MP, says he is happy to be Cayman’s “man in London” to advocate for the territory to get a larger slice of environmental funding.
“More than 90 percent of the biodiversity that the U.K. is responsible for is found in the overseas territories, yet we spend around 5,000 times as much money on the 10 percent that is on the U.K. mainland,” he said.
Mr, Offord believes the U.K.’s Darwin Plus initiative, which is funding studies connected to the Cayman Turtle Farm, should be used to support further conservation efforts in Cayman and other territories.
The MP, who has previously visited Cayman as part of an environmental audit committee looking into biodiversity in the territories, said he did not want to interfere with the Cayman Islands government’s decisions over the future of the turtle farm.
“I am not here to tell people what to eat,” he said at a reception at Grand Old House on Monday. “It is not my role or responsibility to advise the Cayman government. My job is to look at what the British government can do.
“I think we could be doing more to help the overseas territories protect the natural environment. It’s inspiring to see the work that Fred Burton has done here with the blue iguanas. These are the kinds of things we should be supporting.”
Mr. Offord, a keen diver, is vacationing in the Cayman Islands and took the opportunity to check in on some of the conservation issues he encountered as part of the audit committee.
“I certainly congratulate the government on the commitment they have shown to the environment with the National Conservation Law and some of the other legislation that they have pushed through,” he said.
Monday’s reception at Grand Old House was hosted by representatives from World Animal Protection, a wildlife group that is pushing for reform of the Cayman Islands Turtle Farm.
Mr. Offord insisted he was not publicly endorsing the campaign to end turtle farming in Cayman, saying it is a decision for the Cayman Islands government. But he said he is encouraged that constructive dialogue is taking place between the local government and the wildlife group.
Neil D’Cruze, head of wildlife research and policy for the organization, formerly known as the World Society for the Protection of Animals, said the group planned to meet with stakeholders, including government, during the visit.