Aug 16, 2013
At the end of July, WSPA held the most encouraging talks since the start of the Stop Sea Turtle Farming campaign with high-ranking members of the newly elected Caymanian Government, where our proposed solutions to problems at the controversial Cayman Turtle Farm were discussed and positively received.
Over 9,500 endangered sea turtles are bred and housed at the farm for their meat. These magnificent sea turtles live in dirty, overcrowded tanks, are often diseased and unable to engage in their natural behaviours.
Open, candid and positive talks
WSPA’s Chief Executive, Mike Baker, and Wildlife Trade Campaign Leader, Dr Neil D’Cruze, proposed to the Caymanian Government – the legal owner of the farm – that the farm be redeveloped into a rehabilitation, rescue and release facility for injured turtles, while remaining open to tourism.
The meetings, which included, amongst others, the Ministers for the Environment, Tourism, Planning, Health and Agriculture, highlighted a shared concern within the new government about many aspects of the Farm. These included: the unproven conservation benefits of its breeding program; its CI$9m a year drain on the island’s economy; the lack of knowledge about the true nature of local demand for turtle meat, and the poor welfare conditions in which the turtles are kept.
D’Cruze said: “We are pleased to have had open, candid and more positive talks with the new Caymanian Government. I believe that there is real possibility that we can collaborate to ensure that positive steps are taken to help the thousands of sea turtles which continue to suffer at the Cayman Turtle Farm.”
The potential to become a center of excellence
While WSPA is cautiously optimistic to have found this significant common ground, there is still one key area of dispute. WSPA remains clear that the only way to fully resolve the welfare problems at the farm is to transition away from commercial production, whereas the Caymanian Government believes there is a way to humanely farm sea turtles.
WSPA’s proposal to turn the farm into a rescue, rehabilitation and release and eco-tourism center is modelled on the Reunion Island’s former turtle farm, which successfully transformed into The Kélonia Observatory of Marine Turtles. Kélonia is now a world-respected research and education center that has demonstrated increased economic benefits for the island, and rising visitor numbers.
A transformed farm could also become a center of excellence for sea turtle conservation and has the potential to become the jewel in the Cayman Island’s crown.
After WSPA’s undercover investigation into cruelty at the farm was made public in 2012, over 180,000 people backed our Stop Sea Turtle Farming campaign, including Sir Paul McCartney and native Caymanian and Freedive World Champion, Tanya Streeter and gold medal winning Winter Olympian, Amy Williams.
How you can help
You can help us protect sea turtles, and other wildlife at risk of exploitation. Visit www.stopseaturtlefarm.org for latest resources including films, reports and media coverage. Share our Change needed for sea turtles infographic below. Give WSPA a gift today >>