Public cash still needed for Turtle Centre loan

| 23/02/2017 | 38 Comments

(CNS): The tourism minister has told the Legislative Assembly that around $4.5 million of the public cash pumped into the Cayman Turtle Centre in the last financial year went towards paying the loan to build the facility. Moses Kirkonnell said that the outstanding debt for the facility will not be paid off until 2019. As the minister presented the Turtle Centre’s financial report to his parliamentary colleagues for the last budget year, he revealed that because of the loan and shortfalls in revenue, the attraction made another loss of $6 million.

Around $2.4 million of the government money given to the CTC went towards its day-to-day operating losses. The minister said that revenues were, however, beginning to increase and that food and drink sales as well as admissions were growing. He also pointed to an increase in meat sales of around 29%, which he said demonstrated the need to keep farming the meat. With the demand showing “no signs of diminishing”, Kirkconnell said there would be “unsustainable pressure” on turtles in the wild without the Centre (previously named the Cayman Turtle Farm) which was “fundamental to conservation”.

The CTC has been the target of a sustained campaign by the UK-based animal charity World Animal Protection, which wants to see it become a genuine conservation facility. But despite the myriad problems with the husbandry, the well publicised deaths of hundreds of animals and issues of disease and genetic deformities at the facility, the desire for people to eat turtle in Cayman means the farm is tolerated and in some cases supported by conservationists locally because of genuine fears that without it the wild turtles would be poached to extinction.

Further concerns were raised by the international charities last year, however, with the resumption of turtle release programme in May, as there are worries that the yearlings bred and hatched in captivity could pose a risk of disease to the wild population when released into the sea. There is, however, growing evidence to suggest that the release programme has increased the local nesting population, which is growing year on year.

The minister also stated that the CTC has upgraded the release protocols and the animals are being independently tested overseas before being released to ensure that they do not pose a threat to the wild population. They are also putting some eggs in nests on the beach where they can go straight to the sea.

Kirkconnell noted that with more than 90 people working there, they have only three work permit holders.

The report was one of a long list of outstanding government financial accounts laid by ministers during the morning’s opening session of the LA Wednesday.

See the proceedings on CIGTV:

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Category: Government Finance, Marine Environment, Politics, Science & Nature

Comments (38)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone looked at the maths in this article. The CTC received a subsidy of $6 million, yet the article says that there was $4.5 million that went to the loan and $2.4 million that went to operational loses.
    Last time I checked 4.5 +2.4 = 6.9 NOT 6. I am just wondering where CNS got it wrong.




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  2. Anonymous says:

    Interesting question here, where’s a bigger bang for the buck spent here?
    -continue funding this failed system, for some reason or anther?
    -or invest that kind of money into local education?
    Of course, the turtle farm makes more sense. Then you won’t have to worry about an increase in IQ by the locals, which means they will remain brainwashed to this kind of BS.




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  3. Anonymous says:

    “Fundamental to conservation”. WTF!
    How sad a statement.
    But I guess you are correct…it’s not like the DOE is given the resources (or know-how) to actually go after poachers. So I guess you are better off selling farmed-endangered meat, right? Makes more sense.?.?
    And they say my country is crazy for putting Trump in office..




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  4. Anonymous says:

    shut it down now. thank you from people with a developed brain.




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  5. Anonymous says:

    That’s bloody expensive turtle we’ve been eating.
    Even at $50 per lb, it would not be profitable.

    It’s time for a boycott until they close this place down or preferably repurpose it.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    This disgusting place isn’t about turtle welfare, it’s about keeping Caymanians in work and covering up government incompetence. Close it down or turn it into a legitimate scientific research facility run by the turtle specialists at the DOE, with additional oversight of welfare charities.
    Like starfish, stingrays and dolphins, these are wild animals who are exploited for dead headed human entertainment, and it should stop.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Ummm, new here? It’s none of those things you mentioned. It a farm. That raises turtles. For food.




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  7. Anonymous says:

    Turtles Matter!




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  8. Anthony Salerno says:

    It should be closed down. Why keep losing more money?




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    • Anonymous says:

      Please release the Crocodile, he was not born in captivity and can / will be able to fend for himself,Crocodiles can swim for hundreds of miles so you don’t have to release him close to shore.
      If you don’t want to do that, please give him to a facility who look after Crocs,he has a bad enclosure right now, very un-natural,I was very upset when I visited..

      Amanda




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  9. Anonymous says:

    For anyone voting in the next election: this is another page in the great legacy of Mr. Mac Bush.




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  10. Sharkey says:

    Mr KirkConnell said that the loan wouldn’t be payed of until 2019. I think he should have said that it wouldn’t be payed of till OUR DEATHS do us apart .
    The farm has never payed of any loans from Government since it was started.




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  11. Anonymous says:

    As per the most recent (2013) audited financials, the Turtle Farm issued 44.6 million dollars worth of senior notes at 4.85%, guaranteed by the CIG. The notes were placed by William Blair and Company LLC (at least it wasn’t Cohen & Co) but there is no public information as to who bought them.




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  12. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know how to do a freedom of information act request for details of the loan? i.e. whether it was private or bank financed and the principal and interest terms? I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some govt-credit-card-in-a-slot-machine type funny business going on. The Joey Ebanks scandal hinted at some shady dealings at the Turtle Farm and it was never explained or investigated.

    The MLA register of interests should also show if anyone members held the debt, but I doubt any of them actually declare their interests in accordance with the law.




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    • Dan Duguay says:

      Actually a full analysis of the debt financing of the Turtle Farm can be found at the OAG website under Performance Audits. I strongly encourage people to read it. Lots of questions that had never been answered




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    • Sharkey says:

      That’s why Joey Ebanks was being so quiet all these years that we didn’t hear him say anything, sneaking one under the prison door.




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  13. Diogenes says:

    Everyone wants to focus on the turtle farming aspect. Strangely no one wants to focus on the loan, whether it was arms length, and whether, given the turtle farm is clearly incapable of paying it without subsidy, government couldn’t have stopped the annual haemorrhage by declaring the farm insolvent and either then restructuring it or selling it – and in either case getting rid of the loan. Look at who gets the money and you will have the real answer to why the CIG continues to put money into this black hole. It’s not about the turtles, it’s about the cash.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Bingo. An island of “financial professionals” no less. It’s incredible.

      Not counting the HSBC run 312,000,000 face Cayman Islands 5.95% 24NOV19 (USG1986TAA37, G1986TAA3) issued on London SE back in 2009, where are these Turtle Farm notes that predate? Coupon? Maturity?

      It’s a dark and tightly held private issue me thinks. Gov’t secured money machine for the honorable indefinites.




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    • Anonymous says:

      The loan is guaranteed by CIG to the tune of $45m plus interest. Insolvency won’t help!




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  14. Anonymous says:

    In other words, there exists such an abundance of unrepentant criminal proclivity in the Cayman Islands that wild turtle populations would be annihilated otherwise. Quite an indictment from the Minister of Tourism to rationalize this incredible resource drain. Money that would be far better spent on absent social, educational, and contraceptive programs – or building a bigger courthouse and jail to accommodate the problem he seems all-too aware of. #CaymanHeritage




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  15. Anonymous says:

    Cue lots of nasty comments on barbarous activities, Cayman heritage etc etc.
    For those that do not recall, I remember the EU trying to take away the Great British Sausage, Haggis and various other British delicacies long ago and we told them to go poke it, and in fact now they are recognized as UK brands and heritage. Therefore I think we should leave Cayman alone on this one-that this is farmed is exactly the same as the pork/beef/tripe that goes into the UK stuff, just that we happen to be a bit more sensitive to Turtles-hence the need to farm them to stop poaching the wild ones. Go Cayman.




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    • William Cody says:

      @ 11:23…. Sausage? Haggis? Sounds like a lot of “baloney” to me. The Americans ate lots of .buffalo, too, but they don’t now. Fact is, about the only ones left are in zoos.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Educate yourself then William Cody. You would be surprised what you can find out these days. If you can be bothered that is.




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        • Anonymous says:

          Is that the real “Buffalo Bill” William Cody? 🙂




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          • William Cody says:

            Yes, it’s me, and I’m very sorry that I killed so many innocent animals. Knowing “how it is”, I don’t eat or kill endangered turtles.




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    • Anonymous says:

      You moron, domesticated farm animals are not schedule one endangered species. Whales were once a basic dietary need in the UK, but we saw that killing endangered species for meat isn’t what a civilised country should be doing and stopped it.
      And for the record, if the Europe ever had made that ridiculous claim, (andas a Euro sceptic I doubt it) then what about the Germans, Italians, Spanish sausage products.
      Those Caymanians who poach turtles will do so regardless of any turtle farm, turtle meat is only popular amongst a very small section of the Caymanian population and amongst those stupid tourists and expats that think they are experiencing authentic Caymanian food culture to be down with the ‘locals’. Most local kids prefer burgers and chicken, turtle meat isn’t even on their radar.

      Just get real and stop being an apologist for cruelty.




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  16. Stew da Turtle says:

    So worth it though.




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  17. Veritas says:

    If we have been paying $4.5 million a year for years to pay off the loan how much did it cost to build the facility?. It was a grandiose scheme with grandiose income projections, and grandiose staffing, none of which bore any relationship to reality, a white elephant (turtle), if ever there was one.However Mr Kirkconnell is clearly impressed that the farm is making a few thousand dollars in revenue from the inncreased sales of turtle meat.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Address your questions to McKeeva Bush. He created the grandiose white elephant. Along with his willing buddies & supporters. We are ALL just paying the price now. It appears that Mr. Kirkconnell is simply looking at a glimmer of hope for the future. I seriously doubt he is “impressed”.




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      • Hancock says:

        Was the new facility based on Bush Gardens in Orlando. McKeeva please advise. If so it fell a bit short.




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    • Anonymous says:

      There must be a debt prospectus somewhere, that outlines the total cost of the Turtle Farm, who the contractors/builders were, details of that tender process, and the coupons and provisions of all issued. If we are going to continue to pretend to be fiscally responsible, this should be an easy to find public document. The coupon must be near junk grade to justify these service obligations. Nobody seems to be crying out to refinance these gov’t backed notes! Nobody wants to know “who” owns this debt?!? An island of financial professionals…shame on us!




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    • Anonymous says:

      And I hardly see a Caymanian employee out there.




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