NCC rejects Turtle Centre plan

| 20/06/2019 | 30 Comments
Cayman News Service
Green sea turtle (Photo courtesy DoE)

(CNS): The chair of the National Conservation Council, McFarlane Connolly, has said the NCC will not be accepting a document put forward by the Cayman Turtle Centre because it is not, as claimed, a species conservation plan but a tourism plan, made for the benefit of the Turtle Centre. In a clash between the council constituted under the conservation law and the commercial entity which still farms turtle for meat, the NCC has warned that the document which Cabinet has accepted falls foul of the law and poses a conflict of interest.

Last week the TCT issued a media release promoting the World Sea Turtle Day release of hatchlings on Governor’s Beach and the work at the facility. The release claimed that the CTC had created a species conservation plan for the green turtle, which the Cabinet had accepted. But when the National Conservation Council met Wednesday, Connolly noted a catalog of problems with the claims made by the Turtle Centre and its proposed plan.

“There is an obvious conflict of interest in a business developing a conservation plan to regulate and endorse its own activities,” Connolly stated. “These circumstances risk reputational damage to the Cayman Islands at both a local and an international level.”

He said the council had begun work on a research-based species conservation plan for all of Cayman’s nesting turtles almost three years ago, and only learned last year that a green sea turtle species conservation plan had been drafted by the Turtle Centre and presented to caucus with a proposal that Cabinet direct the NCC to approve that plan.

Seeing the plan then for the first time, the Department of Environment and the NCC wrote to the ministry outlining the problems with this plan. But despite being made aware of the numerous issues with this plan, last summer Cabinet nevertheless accepted it and intended to direct the NCC to adopt it.

This plan was never shown to the National Conservation Council or the DoE prior to its presentation to Cabinet. And Connolly noted that it did not meet the requirements of the National Conservation Law regarding species conservation plans and how they are formulated, which includes a period of public consultation.

Having taken independent legal advice and from the Attorney General’s Chambers, the NCC said that the Turtle Centre had no standing under the law and adopting the plan would not be consistent with its responsibilities under the legislation.

Connolly said that the council acknowledges the valuable contribution the Turtle Centre has made with the historical turtle releases, which DoE research confirms contributed significantly to the recovery of the green sea turtle but its document is not a true or effective species conservation plan.

Connolly stated that as well as not meeting the requirements of a conservation plan under the law, it was “extremely lengthy, overly complex and unclear” and failed to “provide essential conservation measures for wild sea turtles”, and that it covered only one species and lacked “enforceable provisions”.

He added, however, that the council has prepared a true conservation plan for all sea turtle species nesting in these islands.

“This plan is informed by more than 20 years of turtle nesting data and other relevant research,” said McFarlane. “It is unfortunate, due to all the delays caused by this ill-conceived attempt to bypass lawful process, that we have not already been able to present this proposal for public consultation.”

That plan prepared over the last three years by DoE expert researchers and council members was voted on by the NCC, which supported putting it out for consultation today. “As part of the consultation process we will continue consulting with the Turtle Centre and look forward to their input and support,” Connolly said.

The NCC plan is simple and clear and notes that the first steps to their long-term conservation is addressing light pollution and poaching, which are the two main threats to the survival of the wild species.

Every year thousands of baby turtles die unnecessarily when they become disoriented by artificial lighting. As they emerge from their nests at night, they find the ocean by heading toward the brightest light they can see, which should be the moon but is not always so in the modern environment. Therefore, the need to install turtle-friendly lighting on all nesting beaches is a priority and the DoE is calling for this type of lighting to be a requirement for all new beachfront developments.

The NCC plan also points to the problem of the meat trade by the Turtle Centre, which makes it hard for people to distinguish illegal poached meat from the legal product. To address this issue, farmed turtle should be sold in marked, individually identifiable and non‐reusable sealed bags, enabling law enforcement officers to distinguish between legal and illegal meat. 

Responding to the NCC chair’s statement and the release of its plan for consultation, Cayman Turtle Centre CEO Tim Adam said the attraction was pleased to see the council make public statements about species conservation for turtles. “We are keen to continue making our contributions to ensure the continued success of our turtle conservation,” he added.

See the draft species conservation plan for all turtle species nesting in Cayman and Connolly’s full statement here.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (30)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Reject sentient beings at your peril.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So where do you propose I get my turtle meat from?

  3. Anonymous says:

    What agency is tasked with staking and/or caging sea turtle nest barriers in the Cayman Islands? Anyone?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Resistance is futile, in the background Mr Wayne Panton and his team of butchers are working to weaken our conservation law, the same law Mr Panton claims made him a champion for the environment. Any self respecting person would have turned down the offer from Government but I guess he feels getting elected again is more important.

    • Anonymous says:

      Rubbish. Mr. Panton can do more good from inside the review team than he can from outside. At least his views will have to be dealt with in the discussions, minutes, etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t know jack about Mr. Wayne if you believe that. He rightfully believes that he can make more of a difference within the system than without. Just look at all he’s already accomplished.

      You don’t know jack about Mr. Wayne.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The NCC would reject every plan, that’s why they need to change the law.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What??!! Are the NCC nuts? Who knows more about turtle conservation than the people who kill them every week??

  7. Anonymous says:

    close the turtle farm down. it has no place in the 21st century.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ditto for chicken/pig/cattle/fish/etc. farms. We should all have to grow/rear our own. Sorry but when you wish comes true and you are starving I will not be sharing with you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, we should let them go extinct on their own.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well according to this website: You do not seem to be right. They watch beaches all over Cayman, along with tourists and consistently see turtles going to the sea. The turtles surviving is another thing. Well once they reach the ocean as a hatchling the large Man-0War will eat 100 per day per bird. We have a flock of a thousand on island. DOE protects these birds and wants to protect all the trutles. If we would release the turtles on the beach 3-6 months old 75% would make it?

    • Anonymous says:

      1.8-3 lb Frigate birds are opportunistic creatures that do not expend daily bioenergy on 100 dives for anything, especially when many prefer to harass other seabirds and steal their catch. Maybe the odd one or two perish. Green and Hawksbill hatchlings weigh approx 1 oz at birth so 100 (ie.6.25lbs) would not fit into the largest 3lb bird…#math

  9. Open on Sundays says:

    Get them, NCC! It’s all a Cash grab to prop up a poorly run facility. Should be for Conservation only, shutdown the attraction part as well as the dolphin swimming jail across the street I say.

    Soon come anyhow, the Millennials (even though a pain sometimes) at least gives a shit and aren’t complacent, nor shy, nor quiet about putting the pressure where it’s most needed and felt. In the pocket books!

  10. anon says:

    Looks like they may turn turtle.

  11. Anonymous says:

    That the CTC collected 12,000 eggs and released just 6 juvenile hatchlings…tells you all you need to know about the sincerity of the so-called conservation mandate.

    • Anonymous says:

      KYD$20mln a year in annual subsidies (half a Billion in last 20 years) netting just 0.05% towards some contrived PR optics resembling conservation. Meanwhile, no mental health facility, no drug treatment programs, no vocational school, a mute NDC, and failing standards at most of the high schools…

      • Anonymous says:

        But we still might get a port that we don’t want or need. Cayman 🇰🇾 flying the flag on some kind of anti-conservation suicide mission.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Well is seems as though they are in a bit of a stew now.

  13. Anonymous says:

    LOL, a glimpse of sanity here?


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