70% of residents not eating turtle

| 19/10/2015 | 111 Comments
Cayman News Service

Green sea turtle

(CNS) Documents now attached: A new report that examined turtle consumption habits in the Cayman Islands has found that less than a third of the population is eating the national dish and that most tourists do not indulge when they visit. Only 30% of residents ate turtle over the last 12 months and just 1% of the population is eating the endangered species on a weekly basis. Although 6% of cruise visitors say they tried the meat when they visit, just 2% of stay-over guest indulged in a plate of turtle while on vacation.

The report, which was was commissioned by the Department of Environment and funded by the UK government as part of the Darwin Initiative, is the first study of its kind looking at the turtle consumption habits of residents and visitors.  Dr Ana Nuno, the lead researcher from Exeter University, described the report as a baseline study that will help government understand behaviour.

Controversies surrounding the Cayman Turtle Farm, from cover-ups over disease and neglect to nutritional problems and questions over the contribution it makes to conservation, plus an international campaign by the animal rights charity World Animal Protection (WAP) to transition the farm to a purely conservation facility all contributed to the need to get a better understanding of the community’s habits when it comes to eating turtle.

While the study did not find a specific demographic to describe be a typical turtle eater, as consumption was relatively diverse, those who eat the meat are more likely to be male, over 40 and at least a second generation Caymanian, with grandparents born on the islands.

The survey found, however, that the desire to consume turtle has not gone away and the demand for turtle stew in particular has remained constant, though steak demand has fallen. But it is the high cost of the meat produced by the farm as well as limited accessibility that has fueled a decline in the actual consumption and prevented people from eating as much turtle as they would like.

The study was undertaken before the 2014 outbreak of disease at the farm was known and even before that consumers were raising concerns in the surveys about better husbandry for the animals at the facility.

Despite more than fifty years in operation, the farm is still not able to produce the meat at a price people can afford and it has not prevented illegal take. Some 8% of those who said they ate turtle over the last year admitted to eating illegal wild turtle or stolen meat. In addition, if the farm did not exist, 46% of those who said they consumed turtle over the last twelve months would eat wild poached meat if the farm closed.

The survey is one of two parts that will help inform a sea turtle conservation plan in the future under the National Conservation Law. The second part, which is not yet finished, will be examining the genetics and other data regarding the current nesting populations in Cayman to see how much the farm has impacted the wild population.

In the executive summary the researchers and authors said that, although there was no significant age difference when it comes to eating turtle, younger respondents were less likely to eat turtle, and as the demographic in Cayman changes, along with health concerns and lifestyle choices, in the long term demand is likely to fall further.

As well as local consumers, tourists and restaurants were also involved in the survey, which revealed that few visitors eat turtle.

Over 40 restaurants in Cayman serve turtle but some refused to take part in the survey. However, based on those that did and the information provided, the researchers estimated that around 50,000 turtle meals were served last year to customers and 95% of those went to locals.

Socio-economic aspects of turtle conservation in the Cayman Islands, Key findings, October 2015

Summary document – Socio-economic aspects of turtle conservation in the Cayman Islands, October 2015

The  DoE is hosting a public presentation of results on Thursday 22 October at 6 pm in the George Town Town Hall

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (111)

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  1. ROSHAN says:

    If its good for human health, cultivate it. Like Chicken or any other meat or fish. Eat plenty. Why restricting.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Turtle is more than grub to locals.
    This was our thanksgiving turkey.
    It symbolises a time when we had to fend for ourselves, without ANY modern amenities. No supermarkets or electricity etc.
    We are the last Caribbean country to emerge from primitive isolation (yet many of us innocently hold on to our ideals of fairness, equal rights and justice).
    From our survival skills and common sense we have given the worn two products (tourism and finance) that they want and need.
    We have replentished the wild with many thousands of hatchling turtles. From my departed great-grandpa Duxie to many who are still alive today, these a unique living relics.
    The modern diet is why many of our bodies are out of control.
    Turtle is the anthropological reality and during symbol of survival, family and unity. Our monthly “homecoming” fiesta at the turtle farm carries on the tradition.
    If you dont understand it there’s only one solution: put down the pizza, pasta and pub scene for a night and come join us!

  3. Anonymous says:

    The situation at the turtle farm is one of overcrowding, poor management and lack kf foresight.

    Release more turtles into the wild, scale the park back (whoever had the idea to enlarge it did not do a feasibility study).

    Growing up the turtle farm was just that, a farm and you would learn all about our turtling heritage and the life cycle of the beautiful creatures. It was less costly to run than it is now because it was simpler.

    The reason turtle meat is so expensive, is because the “new” farm cannot sustain it self and the focus moved from educational to entertainment.

    Poor political/greed fueled agenda.

  4. Knot S Smart says:

    Question number umpteen for permanent residency application:
    ‘Do you eat turtle meat on a regular basis? Yes/No’
    If ‘no’ please proceed to the Departure Lounge at the Owen Roberts Airport…

  5. Anonymous says:

    The report was commissioned by the DOE but funded by the Darwin Initiative. Check them out on-line. They are a bureaucratic quasi governmental organization that are pro environment and pro endangered species. Not saying that’s a good or a bad thing. We just need to all understand the agenda of the body funding the study before we get too excited about its conclusions.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Can we please stop with the “endangered species argument”. It is a loser.
    If you farm the species you are creating turtles and then consuming what you create. It has zero impact on the wild population at all. In fact the turtle farm probably has a net positive impact to the wild turtle population for two reasons:

    1) They release a small number of yearling turtles into the wild. Yearlings have an exponentially better chance of surviving in the wild and assuming they can stop swimming in circles they should have pretty goods odds of growing to maturity.
    2) By providing farmed meat they limit the poaching of the wild and truly endangered turtles.

    I believe that everyone who decries consuming turtles because they are ‘endangered’ is simply morally opposed to eating turtles. Perhaps these people are opposed to eating all living things. Or perhaps they are more close-minded and are judging through their own (white, Euro-centric) cultural lens. Perhaps they eat fish, chicken pork and beef but don’t like to eat animals that they consider to be cute potential pets or just unusual and icky. People eat all sorts of protein around the world that offends white sensitivities – Whales(Japan), Dogs & Cats (China) Rats (much of Asia), Scorpions (Thailand), Iguanas (Honduras), Monkeys (Africa) Horses (France & Belgium) and Turtles ( Cayman and dozens of other Asian, African and South American Countries).

    • Diogenes says:

      Morally opposed is right, but you weaken a logical argument by then suggesting, without any evidence, that morally opposed somehow equates to race or lack of tolerance for other cultures. I don’t eat dog or monkey, not because I have a “white sensitivity” but because I do not believe it is right to eat animals with that level of intelligence. Are you going to say, for example, that vegetarians are racists rather than moralists (even if you don’t agree with their moral view?). You are not going to get a Hindu to eat a cow, or a Muslim to eat a turtle – is that because they have a Euro – centric cultural lens? By playing the race card you undermine the strength in your principal argument.

      • Anonymous says:

        The point is that people who are morally opposed to eating turtles are promoting the false endangered species argument because it supports their beliefs. They are being cowardly and should just say “I think its wrong and mean to eat turtles and so I don’t want native Caymanians to do so either”

        By the way I have heard the whole “I don’t eat smart animals” argument before. Most people that make it can be exposed as hypocrites (or shallow thinkers) as soon as they put bacon on their cheeseburger. It is widely accepted that pigs are far smarter than dogs. They are also a lot tastier. These same people will happily order calimari or octopus at a restaurant knowing full well that cephalopods have some of the highest functioning brains on the planet.

        I am guilty of this myself, I frequently eat chicken even though I saw one play tic-tac-toe in Las Vegas once.

      • Anonymous says:

        Farmed raised species are not endangered endangered animals. Actually look at it the other way. All animals raised on a farm are critically endangered. either way farming does not impact the wild population.

        • Max Planck says:

          Are you not aware that releasing diseased animals into the wild could be disastrous? After reading about and seeing with my own eyes what has been going on at the turtle farm I certainly wouldn’t eat anything from there!

    • Fred says:

      Not sure I agree on the support for endangered species argument. The sale of legally shot elephant ivory or rhino horn is banned, not because the elephants were poached, and in full recognition of the fact that the revenue would help fund the wildlife reserves that support not only those species but a huge variety of wildlife. Its banned because once you allow some sale of the item, you open the door to illegal sales. Once you, the consumer, have the opportunity to tell your self that the turtle you are eating in a restaurant must have come from the farm, you munch away happily, but you have no real idea if it did or was poached. As for the release of farmed turtle to support the wild population, seem to remember the last turtle release was cancelled on the basis of concerns that all we are doing is introducing disease.

      • Anonymous says:

        Elephants are a bad example with different fact pattern. They are not an endangered species but they have had a massive decline in population due to hunting and poaching. the reason selling ivory is illegal is because the elephant population cannot sustain itself if the practice continues.

        Much like the war on drugs I think the very fact the sale of certain things are banned is exactly what makes the sale attractive to criminals and exactly what drives the price up through the roof.

        The locally shot ivory you mention was not from farmed elephants it was from wild elephants on private game reserves. I would suggest that if you could farm elephants in massive quantities then you could flood the market with legal ivory lower the price considerably making poaching an unattractive way to scrape a living.

        This will not happen obviously but not because commercial farming of elephants makes no sense (they take too long to grow and are too expensive to feed, take up too much room etc). People also have an unnatural affinity for elephants and an emotional connection that would make farming and sanctioned killing during harvest unpopular. Blame disney and dumbo for that I guess.

  7. My Caymanian Rights says:

    Sorry CNS, but I don’t believe you or anything your saying in this matter. I believe the stats are skewed or just completely made up. I believe that you have lied to make your point. I believe that most of the people at CNS are like those at the Cayman Compass, liers.

    You should be ashamed of yourselves, as adults, here in the Cayman Islands, and “if” you know the population like you claim you do then you would know that these stats are wrong.

    As for those who think that eating turtle is wrong, I say this.

    Do not dare attempt to tell me, as a Caymanian, with roots going back to when the first settlers arrived here, that eating something, that historicaly has been a staple in my family for generations, is wrong, because of your personal feelings.

    Those that that believe they have the right to tell me to change my culture are persons who I believe are racist, facist and lack diversity and compassion.

    I agree that the turtles may very well be endangered, and conservation is needed. But attempting to shut down one of the few real places that is assisting in the conservation and survival of the animals is based on personal feelings and not real scientific stats.

    In fact there have been several studies conducted over the years, by independent proffesionals (without a personal agenda) that have endorsed the Turtle Farm, and have in fact stated that because of their efforts, the turtle population locally, has increased.

    CNS: You do understand that this article is about a report commissioned by the DoE and that we did not come up with the statistics ourselves, right?

  8. Ron says:

    Funny no one asked me for my input to a survey, yet every Friday I eat turtle at country and western restaurant. I believe those numbers are skewed and for obvious reasons. They want to change our way of life, our way of culture and who we are as caymanians.

    We should eat fast foods like the Americans, eat curry like the Indians, eat fly fish like the barbadians and speghetti like the Italians. Why can’t we just be allowed to be caymanians in our country?

    • Anonymous says:

      I no longer live on Cayman but I would like to think that there is more to Caymanian culture than eating an endangered animal. If people continue to eat endangered species they will no longer exist. Societies evolve, they change as they have more information and education. If all people were stuck and unable to evolve we would still be living in caves! We have so many resources to educate ourselves and to raise our awareness yet there are so many people who ignore the opportunities presented to them. Rather than being closed why not try to make the most of life by being the best person you can be. The most positive, the kindest, a person who makes the world a little better each day. Lead by example and while one person is unlikely to change the world you can still make a difference.

  9. Anonymous says:

    discussing animal welfare or endangered species with a caymanian is like banging your head against a brick wall……..

  10. Anonymous says:

    Maybe tha’t because only a handfull of people really know how to cook it properly like in times gone by. The turtle dinner served up in restaurants is hit and miss and once you’ve tasted wild turtle meat cooked to perfection you’ll never eat the farmed stuff again. I say it’s better to scale down the farm for breeding and release only and very strictly regulate taking of wild turtle. Inuit are licensed to take polar bear and seal so why can’t the same happen with turtle in Cayman waters? The trouble with this is there are too many that will not respect the law.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It tastes like $#!+. Who cares.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sooooo….Says one who has eaten s#!t……

    • Anonymous says:

      If “pink slime” and mystery meat is good enuf for our school kids in the US, then why cant you people eat it too?
      The hawaiians sure got used to eating spam.

  12. Caymanian donkey says:

    I don’t this is the point, I see no problem in the slaughter of turtles for food ( not my choice). The problem is the turtle farm management can’t run this farm.

    We now know 1200 plus turtles died due to negligence. Firstly how many turtles did the farm release last year? How many turtles did they sell to the public for consumption?

    As I mentioned before, if an Eastender takes a turtle illegally he is arrested and charged.

    Now what is the DOE doing with the sluaghter of these 1200 plus turtles?

    I know these questions are ridiculous as there will be a cover up, BUT!!!

  13. Hambungler says:

    “Green iguana. The other reptile meat.”

    It’s no different to turtle and plenty of it just going to waste. Just saying………

  14. Anonymous says:

    ‘eating turtle is part of our heritage’…what a sad pathethic culture you have…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Your ridiculous comment speaks volumes about the kind of person you are. You wouldn’t last 5 minutes in some other jurisdictions, you’d probably be locked up or worse, flogged. You’re in Rome now so try and do as we do or get out, if you’re not happy with it. This is coming from a well integrated expat who has been around enough to know and respect other people’s way of living.

      • Anonymous says:

        so by your logic if i was in nazi germany i should do what they do or get out????
        btw buddy….i’m permanent…so get used to some first world thinking around here

        • Anonymous says:

          Sorry, but not your bud, your comment doesn’t translate to this debate, don’t try the bleeding heart liberal, tree hugger stance as it clearly is not going to fly very far right now. This is about a traditional way of life. The fact you are commenting about ending this last shred of being that has been a Caymanian way of life leads me to question how you got gained permanent resident status and how much you really know about these islands.

          Well done on your Status app though, I bet you studied hard to regurgitate the answers. Why don’t you visit Japan and try save the whales instead.

          Konichiwa

          • Anonymous says:

            ‘the last shred of being that has been a caymanian way of life’…….hahahha…..night night friend…..

  15. Anonymous says:

    Burger King/Wendy’s is cheaper and causes less controversy. It also tastes like crap, so no-one should know the difference. They could add some of that sargassum seaweed to give it a turtle flavor. Everyone happy. Me for Premier!!

    • Anonymous says:

      70% of residents are not Caymanian who grew up here in the days when fresh wild turtle was a part of our diet. No surprise.

      • Anonymous says:

        wild turtle that you had to go to Cuba or Honduras to get because all that was in Cayman waters was fished out and sold overseas.

      • Anonymous says:

        In 1960 the total population of Cayman was just over 7000, (your figures, not mine) that included all residents, many of whom were colonial expats, Jamaicans etc… and presumably included the Brac and LC.
        So please answer me this, where have all you ‘true’ Caymanians come from?

        Let me help, from those figures and from the annual demographics that followed, it is clear that the vast majority of residents appeared after Jamaican independence and the foundation of offshore banking and tourism.
        So therefore most of those who refer to themselves for the purposes of xenophobia and other petty nationalist BS, aren’t actually ‘true’ Caymanian, (as some like to call themselves) at all. They are just like the majority of residents on these islands, settled immigrants from a multitude of different countries, but most notable Jamaica and Latin America.

        The truth is that these islands are overwhelmingly of mixed race heritage, predominately European and Afro Caribbean. So I doubt very much if accurate family lineage exists on these islands and most of the BS we constantly hear is guess work, folklore and the rantings of those who want to conceal their real background.

        • SSM345 says:

          Ebanks = Welsh
          McLaughlin = Scotland
          Bodden = England
          Smith = England
          Miller = Scotland
          McField = Scotland
          Connolly = Scotland

          Shall I keep going?

          Most people in the world embrace their lineage, no matter where their forefathers are from, but in Cayman, these so called “Natives” like to ignore it, just like Christians who chose what part of the Bible suits their own agenda.

          • Anonymous says:

            I don’t ignore it. I’m happy to be from the Mayflower version of the Cayman Islands. The first family to settle in Cayman and yes we’re originally from Scotland. So what.

          • Anonymous says:

            Ps. I don’t eat Haggis or turtle. Love some whelks though.

  16. Baffled says:

    “just 1% of the population is eating the endangered species on a weekly basis…”

    I don’t eat turtle on a weekly basis. I don’t eat steak on a weekly basis. I don’t eat shrimp on a weekly basis. I don’t eat lobster, or conch, or scallops on a weekly basis. I don’t eat foie gras or jerk pork a weekly basis. I don’t eat asparagus, or artichokes or even carrots on a weekly basis. But I eat all of those things sometimes. I don’t understand the significance of the comment in your story above. Are you insinuating that if I don’t eat something on a weekly basis, I shouldn’t eat it at all or that it shouldn’t be provider here in Cayman?

  17. Anonymous says:

    I am the 1% !!! And I eat nuff for all unna!

  18. Anonymous says:

    What is losing money?
    The Turtle Farm was quite profitable until the “park” was added after the original seaside Turtle Farm site was leased for the Dolphin Attraction.
    Remember that deal anyone?

  19. Anonymous says:

    No, there are not enough fish to eat. Why? Largely in part because, over the past three decades, some “resident guests” of ours indiscriminately catch even the smallest fish, including some tiny species that indigenous Caymanians have never consumed. This is not hearsay, I’ve witnessed this more than once. In addition, many “resident guests” eat sea urchin, periwinkles and other small molluscs from the ironshore.

    Of course there is a requirement for fishing licenses for work permit holders, similar to many other countries, including Canada, but this is never enforced by DoE or RCIPS Marine Branch – they only focus on the Caymanian poaching turtle or conch and lobster out of season!

    Add to this, the removal of the mangrove fringe – which is the main fish hatchery and nursery – through “development”, and of course a growing population harvesting fish legitimately. There is no way that this can sustain adequate fish populations.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not enough fish to eat, why?
      Quite simply because Caymanians destroyed the mangrove fringe by selling it for development.
      They destroyed the grouper population by over fishing, as they eventually will the other indigenous species that swim in local waters.
      They continue to take lobsters, conch and whelk out of season, and purchase the stolen proceeds from local restaurants and road side food stalls.
      It is they who hold fish fry’s using undersized fish.
      They supply a burgeoning market to tourists who want conch shells, not caring whether the shell came from a marine park where it was used as a marine habitat and part of the eco-system, or whether it came from the proceeds of poaching.
      They run the tourist boats which encourage tourists to pick up starfish and stingrays, doing serious harm in their wake.
      They fail to report infringements to the authorities, instead preferring to recount such ‘witnessed’ events for shock effect on blogs.
      Their own government fail to employ enough DOE staff to deter and arrest poachers, and worse, have failed to implement the remainder of the new MCL and enforce it.

      So you see, whilst the taking of small fish is an issue, the bulk of the problem is definitely home grown.
      The DOE need to start enforcing all fisheries infringements, including selling conch and lobster out of season without a legitimate invoice to prove it was caught off island. There are too many loop holes exploited by people who believe it is their personal right to steal from the rest of us.

      • Anonymous says:

        So you blame the effect instead of root cause?
        Why dont DoE stand up to protect the few areas of mangrove left; or have a marine officer posted at the attractions?
        Yes there are poachers, but what of those nasty divers also taking lobster every day (or night) of the week, with no fear?

      • Anonymous says:

        Incredible.

        To be clear I am writing from the standpoint of a ‘Resident Guest’ not a Born Caymanian (so that those who judge the content of a post by the status of the author can save time reading and just vote according to that)

        Clearly there are parallel universes in Cayman for these two posts to co-exist.
        Alternatively if you don’t believe in such things maybe there are joint responsibilities and fault here – and there are things set out as apportioned blame where no blame attaches to anyone

        The author says that the Caymanians destroyed the mangroves for development. No – they sold the mangroves to a buyer. They made a simple, legal and ethical economic choice for the benefit of them and their family. Everyone (RG and BC) surely defends their right to do that.

        Yes species have ben (legally) overfished. It was a mistake and regrettable but I believe largely through ignorance and not intent. Pointing fingers and ‘blaming’ anybody for a poor outcome consequent on innocent activity benefits nobody. Even today there are very few places in the world where the balance of the food chain is fully understood and properly managed.

        I think both posters are right. Some Born Caymanians poach and some Resident Guests Poach. All non poachers (BC and RG) should condemn all poachers (RG and BC) – the poachers are to be blamed, not a subset.

        Yes we have had failure of government in that they have in the past failed to recognise issues here action needs to be taken and subsequently failed to enforce the actions put in place to address issues recognised. Again this was a failure of capability not intent.

        We do not castigate the toddler who tries to walk if they fall over and nor do we tell them they must crawl until they can walk “properly”. So it is with Government. It was and is right for Cayman to take its own governance responsibilities in hand. Mistakes have been made – but of omission, not commission, so lets not “blame” them.

        Lets all learn from the mistakes of the past and work with each other to the better of our future on the island – whether temporary (RC) or Permanent (BC) – and blame the deliberate and damaging actions of certain individuals in our community (RG and BC) for our collective issues and work to curtail / contain them.

        End of parallel universe!!

        • Anonymous says:

          And let’s all hold hands in the summer of love.
          You poor deluded soul, of course poachers come from all communities, but there is a difference between someone taking a lobster for the grill and a local removing 20 to sell to local restaurants and in back yard deals. The same applies to conch and whelk being removed in their hundreds in one session.
          As for the mangrove issue. Caymanians sold out their heritage and their inheritance when they saw dollar signs in front of them. A clear case of personal greed.
          It may be true that developers made legitimate purchases and the land was sold quite legally, but was it morally right to be complicit in the destruction that they knew was coming? But whatever the standard of integrity applied, there are only one group of people to blame for this destruction, and that’s the Caymanian people and their government, (MLA), who by the way had a great deal of personal interest in selling family land.

          Your entire piece is made up of apologetic nonsense, stop being so naive, these people know exactly what they’re doing and why. In most cases the damage has definitely been and continues to be done by commission and mainly out of self interest. You clearly believe the self entitled whining that some indulge in now the money has run out, and now they have nothing but memories of their treacherous behaviour.
          The truth is that this island doesn’t belong to Caymanians, it belongs to the overseas developers and the overseas owners they sold their souls to, and now its too late to claim it back.
          There are plenty of UN mandates that protect our environments and Cayman knows them all, to claim that over fishing, mangrove destruction and wholesale poaching at commercial levels is out of ignorance, not design, is pure fantasy and the musings of someone who has no idea how real people think or how the real world works.

          No my friend, I suggest you stop what ever it is you’re smoking and return to the 21st century.

          • Anonymous says:

            Dude. Not a single Guy could sell lobster tails or out of season or in large amounts IF the restaurants did not BUT them!
            A wetsuit can hold lots of tails.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ah, so it’s the furriners that are causing the fish problems…just like all the crime. Dear Lord Jesus help us to overcome the idiocy of some of our citizens.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I’m Caymanian over the age of 50 and I grew up in a time when turtle meat was a regular part of the diet. We drank water from wells that have since been contaminated by the cesspools that were common before we learned to build septic tanks. I also drank rain water that washed whatever chemicals that MRCU sprayed to control mosquitoes into the cistern.

    As much as I loved stewed turtle growing up, the large 200lb from the Mosquito Keys with yellow fat, I no longer eat turtle from the farm since I saw the pictures of the grotesque and sickly creatures in the tanks. I would much rather sip a glass of well water contaminated with fecal coliform every day than eat turtle from the farm ever again.

    So it’s part of my heritage, but I would be more than happy to see the slaughter house closed and the farm operated as a turtle refuge.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Respeck” 12:08. I love the stew but no longer eat turtle because of that farm.

    • Anonymous says:

      This man speaks the truth Wild turtle is much better than nasty farmed turtle
      Its just like a homegrown tomato versus one grown on a commercial farm in Canada
      nothing to compare.
      So even if you close the turtle farm the demand for wild turtle will still be there and that is why there is no wild turtles on our beaches anymore.
      you have a turtle farm because you destroyed the real thing years ago

  21. Anonymous says:

    CNS please publish the full referenced study not just parts of the study.

    Thank you.

    CNS: As you know, we always post full reports when we have them.

  22. Anonymous says:

    “THE REST OF THE STORY”

    “Despite more than fifty years in operation, the farm is still not able to produce the meat at a price people can afford …”

    CNS – the above statement is only part of the story – please use your great investigative skills to tell the rest of the Cayman Turtle Farm story – the potential of Cayman Turtle Farm.

    “…meat at a price people can afford …”:

    It is hoped that this statement is made by CNS out of ignorance of the marketability of turtle products.

    Now CNS as a follow up – investigate the total potential market value of the green sea turtle products (shell, scutes, calipee, oils, skins / leather, etc., etc.,) that are presently not used, all because sales of the other turtle products are limited to only local sales of meat, no other green sea turtle product.

    If Cayman Turtle Farm could:

    * Sell all of the turtle products internationally.

    * Export eggs to be hatched on beaches throughout the Caribbean.

    * Become the expert advisor in the establishment of turtle farms throughout the world to give employment, establish investments in viable sustainable industries and feed the hungry with high quality protein.

    * Develop worldwide on island nations turtle hatchling watching as a SUSTAINABLE TOURISM PRODUCT.

    Return to the original vision of Dr. Archie Carr and Dr. Robert Schroder when they developed the concept of farming green sea turtles in the Florida Keys in the 60’s and 70’s – “Preservation of the green sea turtle specie by developing economically successful commercial green sea turtle farming – Conservation through commercialization of the specie” – as has been done on land with chickens, turkeys, alligators, North American bison / buffalo, Nile crocodile and cows, which will never be extinct.

    After meeting George Hudson who introduced them to the Cayman Islands as the tax haven business was being established, the operation was moved to Grand Cayman and Mariculture Ltd. was established. Due to totally commercial reasons that vision has taken many unfortunate detours with the true position always being hidden from the public’s view by the various private sector and international government players.

    Now, if a few people had just a little bit of vision, put it into action, get Cayman Turtle Farm aligned back with the very valid original vision, then the farm’s picture would change overnight and the true environmental worth and economic worth of Cayman Turtle Farm to the Cayman Islands, the Caribbean and the world would be realized.

    People consider dat!

    • Diogenes says:

      And how are you going to deal with CITES, to which Cayman is a signatory, that prohibits the international trade in turtle meat or products? As for commercialisation of turtles, if it costs so much to produce a pound of turtle meat here, what makes you think it will be a substitute for chicken or cow, which are far cheaper meats even without the regulatory limitations and other cultures views on consuming turtle and endangered species? Fantasy land, my friend.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is illegal to sell turtle products worldwide, why? Because it promotes poaching, much like the Elephants etc in Africa.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Maybe if less turtles went over the back fence and into peoples trunks and were instead paid for through the front door the financial problems would be lessened.

    – Isme

  24. Anonymous says:

    yep 30% of locals…says it all…..anyone want to have a chat about caymanian genetics????

  25. Sharkey says:

    Who are the people that they did this survey on ? Caymanians? Or people who don’t want to eat it ? I know that the tourist ate a lot of turtle stakes back in the days , because I delivered to the Galleon, Royal Palms, Holiday Inn, Beach Club, and everyone in George town and West bay , and all other part of the island ate turtle meat. So why are the tourist no longer eating turtle meat ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Because turtle steak is not as good as the other things on the menu and is no longer considered exotic.

    • Diogenes says:

      Perhaps for the same reason that they don’t go to bull fights in Spain anymore, or the British no longer allow bear baiting, or people don’t wear fur coats?

    • Anonymous says:

      And they said it tasted just like chicken, Sharkey you poor duffus and they went home and said it was nothing special. And if you asked them to eat the stew which is real turtle they would puke if you told them it contained the fin, the liver and the, er, “lights”.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I’m a middle-aged Caymanian by birth who has lived here most of my life (except my teen-age years) and I don’t eat turtle meat – never have. But I support the right of Caymanians who do, as long as it’s the legally sourced turtle. However, I argue that, as the Turtle Farm has proven to successfully replenished local wild turtle stocks over the past 40 years from it’s release program, it (the Farm) should be allowed to capture a fixed number of turtles back from the wild each year – a small percentage of what has been released – for butchering.

    The argument that Caymanians should cease eating turtle should not exist from the cultural aspect (we don’t knock other cultures for eating whatever they eat) nor should it exist from the perspective of protecting endangered species (the marketed turtle is farm-raised). Poaching should still be enforced and prosecuted.

    The Farm has been successful from a scientific perspective until recently (those mass turtle deaths are clearly related to administrative failures – i.e. no real scientists on staff) so what it needs is to make it commercially successful (which is has not been since the CITES ban was implemented in the Seventies). That it has not been commercially successful in 40 years despite various Government and management changes strongly suggests that it will never become so as a Government-run entity.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I think the real answer is to create enough demand for the turtle meat to make the farm profitable.

    Some clever marketing could do the trick.

    Cayman could introduce a holiday similar to the American thanksgiving, replacing the turkey with a turtle. After the meal is prepared the shells could be decorated and hung outside one’s door as a symbol of the holiday. I think it would be fun.

    Problem solved.

    You’re welcome Cayman.

    • SSM345 says:

      Whilst we dredge our environment (the reason why people visit us in the first place is our environment, lets also entice them with endangered animals on the menu? That is the greatest idea ever…..Not.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe in the tv commercials they could be careful not to show the diseased ones with open sores as I doubt that will go far towards creating any demand to eat them.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Turtle meat has been a national dish for caymanians way before the farm was open, and back then that 30% was a 100 % before the place started to be over run by expats who most of their national dish back home are cats n dogs and other weird things that we here use for bait, I for one love a good plate of stew turtle with corn bread regardless if its legal or illegal and I am not going to stop eating it just because of some tree hugging, probably Americans, that watched finding Nemo too many times

    • Anon says:

      Cats and Dogs make good bait? Lol! In case you haven’t noticed there doesn’t seem to be too much of a shortage of Cats or Dogs in the world. Any objection to not eating them tends to be sentimental vs logical. Can you honestly not see the difference between eating an endangered species vs a plentiful one? Yes it has been a national dish but unfortunately the eating of it has led it to the brink of extinction – the lesson is that we must respect our environment if we expect it to stay abundant.

    • Sue says:

      A bit xenophobic, I’d say.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t know about cats, but certainly stray dogs, feral chickens and green iguanas could be used to good effect.

  29. Gray Matter says:

    Well if you removed that 70% from the Cayman Islands. You would have 100% true Caymanians eating turtle> RIGHT.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am a born Caymanian who carry an Original Caymanian last name and I just don’t eat turtle meat so you cant say “You would have 100% true Caymanians eating turtle meat” because I am a true Caymanian I just don’t eat the meat.

      • SSM345 says:

        An original Caymanian last name? They do not exist. The vast majority of popular and common Caymanian names are actually British in origin, because it was British sailors who colonized this place when they shagged the slaves back in the day. You should really look up the heritage you all possess pre-Cayman because whether you like to admit it or not, your forefathers were from Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland.

        • Anonymous says:

          The forefathers of America was British so they are not Americans now?

          • Fred the Piemaker says:

            The Americans have allowed a little more immigration and widening of the gene pool. Think you would be hard pushed to show the same degree of linkage between modern American family names and 17th Century British ones as you get here.

            • Anonymous says:

              The Americans have had more time than Cayman and I would consider the gene pool in Cayman very widened. I think that I can safely say that in my son’s class of 17, there are only two children including my own that can trace their lineage back to the first settlers without other nationalities thrown in.

            • Anonymous says:

              We have had more time. Lots of our British surnames came with settlers nearly 400 years ago.

              • Anonymous says:

                Hello, the first known permanent settlers came here in the late 17th or early 18th century. That would make just over 300 years and probably remained at a mere handful of settlers for the next 100 years. In fact, there was barely a 1000 people on Cayman’s three islands at the abolition of slavery. And as more than 50% were probably emancipated slaves, that doesn’t bode well for those who claim to be of ‘original settler’ blood. And if proof were needed, just look around you, there’s an awful lot of non European blood out there with so called ‘original Cayman names’.
                Me thinks there’s a lot of imagination at work here.

                • Anonymous says:

                  Unlike the American slaves, the Cayman slaves kept their former owners’ last names. Therefore, a black Scott and a white Scott are most likely not family.

                  As we all know, a lot of “stuff” went on as the song, “Shame & Scandal in the family” so eloquently worded portrayed all the happenings.So then again………Who knows

  30. Anonymous says:

    I’m a local… I eat it atleast once a month and so does my 6 yr old daughter and husband and no one asked us…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Same here. I wonder if CNS can find out who they asked….

    • Anonymous says:

      Stupid and backwards.

    • SSM345 says:

      They should go to Luz’s on a Friday, best Turtle Stew in Cayman, hands down.

    • Fred the Piemaker says:

      I am a resident – I don’t eat it at all and wouldn’t if you gave it to me for free – and no one asked me either. So how do the researchers come up with their figures? 70% of the people they asked that said they were residents, perhaps? And how did they select the ones they asked? If its a restaurant based questionnaire its highly selective and not a statistically valid sample. May as well ask me or 7.53 am and then say its a 100% pro or con.

  31. Anonymous says:

    The cow is the most endangered animal on the planet.

    Think about it, then post your comment.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I eat turtle, no one asked me anything.

    Let them all go. Then the Devil can kill them through environmental degradation.

  33. David Miller says:

    The turtle farm is a tourist attraction and is something that is unique in the world. In the drive to maintain our tourism business we must create new tours. Why shut down something that has been working ever since it was started? We who bring customers to the turtle farm help each other in conservation and employment. There is also the part for education to people who don’t anything about the sea turtles. Of course it can always make improvements, but it takes money. I believe Turtle Farm is where we should expand and create a park for more options to families. How about a Zip line ? You don’t need a hill , all you need is a tower. Build it from Boatswain bay hill back to turtle farm area. How about more slides? It would help their bottom line.

    • Cheese Face says:

      I hit like by accident! “something that has been working ever since it was started” Thank the Lord you are not my accountant!

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry..Zip lining is the # 1 over-rated tourism activity world wide , just another bogus attraction

      • Marvin Kirkfoster Boddenbanks says:

        Set up a zip line tower offshore with a small berthing area and bring the cruise visitors into Georgetown that way. The line will run through Kirk Freeport, spin them upside down to shake the money out, and then zip them back out to sea.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I used to eat it a lot back home, here is too damn expensive, that’s why I dont. Is like reporting cayman with “lowest consumption of champagne” in the world… CI 50 the cheapest one at a licor store…. Statistical Failure…

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually Cayman has the one of the highest consumption per capita of champagne in the world, so bad example.
      Has close to 50% of the Cayman’s population is expat, who will have a low percentage of turtle eaters, you might be less misleading to say 60% of Caymanians ate turtle.

      • Anonymous says:

        Perhaps you are considering the lower end Sparkling Wines a Champagne. not that i sell alcohol for a living and work with sales numbers the whole day but…..
        anyone who told you that last sunday brunch you had unlimited “champagne” for CI 45???? get your money back…

  35. Anonymous says:

    I prefer a shoot poachers on site policy.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Turtle meat is pumped with antibiotics etc… Not sure it would meet US FDA approval for human consumption. Sales would go up if it is certified by some international food safety agency

    • Anonymous says:

      US FDA?! Are you kidding?
      Of all countries in the world, I doubt the USA is the best to refer as a benchmark of healthy or chemical-free food sources.

      – Who

  37. Anonymous says:

    So 30% are barbarians and 1% are complete barbarians.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Your claim that “The farm… has not prevented illegal take” is simply wrong. The farm has not prevented ALL illegal take, but it certainly stops a large amount of it. The waterpark was a stupid idea from the outset – who wants to snorkel in tanks when you can hop off the ironshore and swim in the sea? Close that mistake down immediately, and focus on farming and conservation.

    If you close the whole thing, the wild turtle population will be wiped out within 5-10 years. Not sure how reliable the survey is / what the sample size was, but if 30% of 60,000 ate turtle in the last 12 months that’s 18k, and 46% of them would eat wild turtle that’s over 8,000 people.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Aren’t there enough fish to eat?

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly……….. so why eat all these other things like, chicken, pork, rabbits, cows, kangaroo, ostrich, buffalo, sea mollusks, lobsters and crabs, etc etc.. Aren’t there enough potatoes as well? Why eat all those other vegetables and create global warming by growing them?

  40. Anonymous says:

    Our only sensible choice: Ban burgers, fries and sodas!
    We did quite well without them, thank you.
    Yes, only 30percent of population eat turtle regularly. Guess what? Only 30pc are the indigenous people. Go figure.
    What next? Debarb the stingrays? Drive on right? Adopt daylight savings?
    Let’s all eat haggis and cow brain and black pudding instead. Yummm.
    For real…a turtle meat report!!
    What about the welfare of our indentured workers living in abuse and near poverty here to help their families back home?
    Wow

    • Anonymous says:

      Err, there are no indigenous people on the Cayman Islands. And as many of the founding fathers were British, haggis and black pudding would be a cultural dish. Turtle was originally taken by seafarers to supplement their fresh meat stores, settlers merely indulged in it because they made money from catching it and passing it on to ships. It became a staple by default not by necessity as pork and beef were readily available from Jamaica.
      Many differing people’s have eaten many forms of meat, including human, so when do you decide that some foods should be consigned to history?
      I suppose when that society acknowledges that they need to progress into a world that is far more advanced than their predecessors, that they have matured as a society and that endangered species should be protected from those who are not bright enough to understand.
      Many countries had deep historical, national and cultural beliefs, but with the advancement of time we learnt that somethings are immoral and unacceptable, slavery for one, child labour and the denial of the vote for working men and women. We learnt that whales were an unnecessary part of out diet and industry, we learnt that dolphins shouldn’t be kept in pools or tigers in cages, we have learnt and continue to learn. Somethings are still terribly wrong, especially in farming, but we must progress.
      Turtle farming and it’s rare consumption needs to stop, Cayman needs to advance before the PR gurus at WAP target tourism and cruise ships. The consequences could be huge, especially for the TF. Turn it into a research facility now before any more public subsidies are poured into this barbaric and useless empty hole.

  41. Anonymous says:

    The answer to the Turtle Farm issue is simple.

    Close down the so called Farm and release the captive turtles into the wild where they belong. Issue very restricted Licences to native Caymanians to take very limited number of turtles per year from the wild during specific periods of the year based on the historical origins of this custom. Monitor the taking of turtles vigorously by increasing the staff of DOE with the money we save by closing the Farm.

    Simple.

    • No Subsidies says:

      Any business that loses money needs re-organizing or closed down. How long would you run a business that lost that much every year?

    • Anonymous says:

      10.25, monitor something closely? In Cayman? More like accept cash to look the other way…

      • anonymous says:

        That survey is correct when it says residents, because i believe that only 30% of our residents are true Caymanian, but again they did not ask me if i eat turtle.
        i love turtle and can only afford it once a month, if i could afford it i would eat it every day and i know alot of people who would too.

        • Anonymous says:

          Last year I bought turtle meat and I paid 16 dollars a pound. Hmm, that very expensive, I could go and by nearly 16 pound of chicken for that price.

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