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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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Abstract

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, UK.NeilDCruze@worldanimalprotection.org marydele@conserveturtles.org
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

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