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The Cayman Turtle Farm: why we can't have our green turtle and eat it too

By N. D'Cruze, R. Alcock, M. Donnelly

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The Cayman Turtle Farm (CTF) is the only facility in the world that commercially produces green sea turtles ( Chelonia mydas) for human consumption. The CTF has operated at a significant financial loss for much of its 45 years history and is maintained by substantial Cayman Island Government subsidies. These subsidies run into millions of Caymanian dollars and dwarf the funding allocated to The Caymanian Department of Environment to protect its unique biodiversity each year. We argue that it is time for the CTF to terminate its sea turtle 'farming' initiative. Supporters argue that the CTF helps to conserve green turtles by providing legal and sustainable turtle meat for local Caymanian consumption. Opponents maintain that farmed turtle meat cannot serve as an effective economically viable substitute, and that the facility potentially harms Caribbean green turtle populations by promoting turtle meat consumption, when other Caribbean nations increasingly prohibit this practice. The CTF's records demonstrate that commercial production has come at the expense of tens of thousands of sea turtles. We question the ethics of sea turtle farming and argue that the CTF could better contribute to conservation if it transitioned into a rehabilitation, research and education facility (similar to the former sea turtle ranch Ferme Corail, now known as the Kelonia: Observatory of Marine Turtles). Recommended first steps include prohibiting the sale of sea turtle products to international tourists, engaging with stakeholders, and assessing the true scale of local consumer demand for green turtle meat.

Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 28
Issue 1
Pages 57-66
ISBN/ISSN 0893-4282
Publisher Springer
Language English
Author Address World Animal Protection, 5th Floor, 222 Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8HB,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animals
  2. Aquacultural and fisheries
  3. Biological resources
  4. Caribbean
  5. Cayman Islands
  6. Commerce
  7. Conservation
  8. Consumption
  9. Developing countries
  10. Economics
  11. Environment
  12. Ethics
  13. Great Britain
  14. Meat production
  15. natural resources
  16. peer-reviewed
  17. Reptiles
  18. turtles
  19. United States of America
  20. vertebrates
  21. wildlife management
  1. peer-reviewed