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Today's Date: 24 October 2014
Last Updated: 23 October 2014 18:38:35 EST
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Study asks: Do you eat turtle?

Review to look at turtle consumption, releases

The survey will help determine how popular turtle meat is. – Photo: Chris Court

The government will use a U.K. grant in part to study whether eating turtle meat is as popular as it has been in the past.  

Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie confirmed that Cayman recently obtained Darwin Plus grant money to investigate, among other issues, “the socio-economics…of the local supply and demand for turtle meat.”  

The review of turtle meat consumption will be part of a larger review and ongoing work on conservation of wild sea turtles in Cayman, Mrs. Ebanks-Petrie said.  

The news was music to the ears of World Society for the Protection of Animals members, who have been haranguing the Cayman Turtle Farm on a number of health and conservation-related issues since 2012.  

“WSPA is delighted to hear that the Department of Environment has secured U.K. funding to investigate the true level of demand for turtle meat and the impact of releasing farmed turtles in the Cayman Islands,” said WSPA Head of Wildlife Policy and Research, Neil D’Cruze. “We welcome the news that there will be no more turtle releases from the farm until the conclusions of this study are made available.”  

Mr. D’Cruze and other WSPA officials were in Cayman last week for meetings with the Department of Environment and various government ministries as they continued their campaign to try and change the focus of the Cayman Turtle Farm from a meat-production/tourism facility to a conservation and research operation.  

The Cayman Turtle Farm is believed to be the last place on Earth where sea turtles are raised and bred for human consumption.  

Government officials said Tuesday in a statement that meetings with the WSPA, which released a scathing report on the Turtle Farm operations in 2012, were productive and that they would “undertake to address all appropriate concerns.”  

“It was agreed that turtle meat has huge cultural significance in the Cayman Islands,” the government statement read. “WSPA is concerned that there is a need to consider ways to reduce the promotion of turtle meat to international tourists.”  

Mr. D’Cruze said the WSPA believes that Cayman should know exactly how much demand exists for turtle meat, as recent sales of the product have been tepid, and many local restaurants – including one on the Turtle Farm property – have stopped offering turtle on the menu. The issue of whether government would “reduce the promotion of turtle meat to international tourists” was not discussed further in the government’s statement.  

In addition to the issue of turtle consumption, the Department of Environment said it would look at the effectiveness of the Turtle Farm’s annual turtle release program and whether it contributes to the replenishment of the turtle population around the Cayman Islands. The WSPA stated in its earlier report its view that farm-bred turtles could introduce diseases into the local wild turtle population, although Turtle Farm officials have said they have no evidence of that occurring.  

The U.K. grant will provide £149,904 (CI$203,768) for the project, which has a total budget of £394,959 (CI$536,819) over the course of two years. The matching funds to make up the rest of the total come from the Department of Environment and its partners at the University of Exeter.  

Ms Ebanks-Petrie said it was not possible at this point to determine how much would be spent specifically on the turtle meat consumption study.  

 
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Ricardo Tatum
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by Ricardo Tatum on 1/23/2014 6:38:04 PM

We welcome the news that there will be no more turtle releases from the farm until the conclusions of this study are made available.


Was this a condition of accepting these funds ?

If it was, then Cayman has sold its birthright for a mess of pottage.

The modern golden rule is...he who owns the gold, makes the rules.

Accept his gold and you will live by his rules.

As I've warned before on another unrelated topic...Cayman is being set up for a take-over...pity the powers-that-be can't see it coming.

Keep accepting their 'free' money and Cayman will soon find out what I'm talking about.
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Sean K. Bent
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by Sean K. Bent on 1/23/2014 3:02:01 PM

Jacob,

As long as its humane and sustainable and can be verified so by a reputable 3rd party, I have no qualms with it. Personal choice is personal and who am I to dictate to others what to eat once it meets the two above criteria?

My statement was not meant to say that we should not try to treat animals better but hinting at the difficulty of manifesting meaningful changes across different cultures.

I have read about the dolphin hunt. That is their claim. I cannot say definitively one way or the other. That is up to the Japanese government and other people closer to the matter to decide. From what I saw, my opinion is that it is very inhumane to say the least and should be banned.

I agree that a global standard for humane treatment of animals and enforcement of that standard is greatly needed. My opinion of the view certain organizations are taking against our turtle farm is akin to trying beat someone into liking you. Its just not very effective.

I agree changes need to be made to the turtle farm but leave us the ability to buy farmed turtle meat at a reasonable cost. Change whatever else you want.

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David miller
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by David miller on 1/23/2014 2:24:37 PM

I love turtle soup, turtle sandwich and especially love turtle steak. I see nothing wrong with The Turtle Farm. Excellent manager who has brought down costs. I believe if we could sell the turtle oil and shell then the farm could eventually make a profit . But the environmentalists don't want us to make them look bed so .We are given all kinds of mountains and rivers to cross to fail.
We are successful in producing first and second generation turtles in our farm . But like any other farms ,they are seeing inbreeding. So no matter what they do it will eventually make less and less turtle eggs.
The solution is to change the breeding stock. But alas where can we get those from ?? All the turtle farms have been blocked or shut down. Maybe China could invest in the turtle farm?? They love turtle too.
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H. Jacob Kunzer
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by H. Jacob Kunzer on 1/23/2014 12:53:47 PM

Sean, You say you will not force your personal choices upon someone else and say you are sorry we as a race will never agree all the time about anything. See the following which occurred on the weekend in Japan.. The fishermen claim this hunt to be humane and sustainable because there are so many dolphins in the sea and tell me that you will not force your personal choices on someone. Problem with your statement is that terms such as humane and sustainability can be very subjective. If the environment is ever to be saved
there will be a requirement for peopl
www.edition.cnn.com/2014/01/20/world/asia/japan-dolphin-hunt
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Ricardo Tatum
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by Ricardo Tatum on 1/23/2014 12:42:09 PM

The government will use a U.K. grant in part to study whether eating turtle meat is as popular as it has been in the past.

The news was music to the ears of World Society for the Protection of Animals members, who have been haranguing the Cayman Turtle Farm on a number of health and conservation-related issues since 2012.

WSPA is delighted to hear that the Department of Environment has secured U.K. funding to investigate the true level of demand for turtle meat and the impact of releasing farmed turtles in the Cayman Islands, said WSPA Head of Wildlife Policy and Research, Neil D'Cruze. We welcome the news that there will be no more turtle releases from the farm until the conclusions of this study are made available.




These are selected quotes from this article that highlight the salient issue here...

The acceptance of UK grant funds for 'environmental projects'.

Does anyone in the CI Govt. know of the origin of much of this 'grant' money ?

Has anyone studied the political agenda of these conservation groups worldwide ?

Does anyone in the CI Govt. realise that much of this funding comes from political lobbies that have nothing to do with conservation of anything, except the brokering of political power ?

On the issue of turtle meat being a part of Caymanian diet, maybe these conservationists need to do a little historical study.

They would learn that the Europeans who first colonised the Caribbean were the first to eat turtle meat...and used the Cayman Islands, then called Las Tortugas because of the abundance of turtles found in its waters...to replenish their military and pirate ships' meat supplies.

The original purpose of the Turtle Farm was conservation and replenishment of the green sea turtle and it still is.

If this project is proving financially unsustainable, closing it down will lead to...

The revival of poaching and taking turtles from the wild.

Either way, Caymanians...and others, who wish to eat turtle meat will continue to do so, regardless of where that turtle meat comes from.
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Mike Lee
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by Mike Lee on 1/23/2014 11:52:34 AM

One missed point in all of this is the cost of production. The farm subsidies run into multi millions don't they?
So how much are people prepared to pay for the privilege of having the wholly national dish versus other projects such as getting people trained so people want to employ them, reducing the indecent assault rate for children, drug rehab, medical, roads, etc? You are arguing about this with the wrong perspective.
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Sean K. Bent
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by Sean K. Bent on 1/23/2014 11:50:01 AM

Jacob,

That sounds like a win for the dogs of Korea.

The irony of eating dogs is that all dogs were domesticated to the point of having a great affinity for people, that is, they are bred to be man's companion and helper and yet they are man's food.

I once grew a rooster from an egg, loved and cared for it and in my mind was a pet but guess what? Someone eventually ate him, not me though. Did I feel bad? Sure did but now as a adult, I understand that there are vast cultural differences in the world that will never be reconciled.

As long as its humane and sustainable, then I will not force my personal choices upon someone else. Sorry to say but we all as a race will never agree all the time about anything.
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H. Jacob Kunzer
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by H. Jacob Kunzer on 1/23/2014 10:47:04 AM

As a result of international pressure since the 1990's dog meat raising in Korea has been made more humane and is sustainable. Do I agree that it should continue? No. In a society as wealthy as South Korea I would argue that as society progresses from the subsistence level of hundreds of years ago to their a ubstantial wealth today we need to be more tuned in to nature and the environment which surrounds us. Dogs are certainly part of the wonders of nature which surround us.
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H. Jacob Kunzer
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by H. Jacob Kunzer on 1/23/2014 10:33:18 AM

Sean, As a result of international pressure the cultivation of dog meat has been made humane and it is sustainabl
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Sean K. Bent
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by Sean K. Bent on 1/23/2014 10:21:21 AM

Jacob,

Just as some people eat horse meat, some eat dolphin, some eat insects, some eat monkey meat. Almost all non poisonous animals are eaten somewhere.

Do we all agree that those things should be eaten? No. Everyone will never agree. That's humanity in a nutshell.

Ideally we would all eat bugs as they are the most efficient source of protein as in the cost to produce and completeness of nutrition but who here would do that?

We need to focus this food debate on whether its sustainable and humane. I think the Turtle Farm is lacking in those two areas but should continue on for the multitude of reasons mentioned below and continue to work towards becoming more sustainable and more humane.
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H. Jacob Kunzer
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by H. Jacob Kunzer on 1/23/2014 9:50:11 AM

I lived many years in Korea in the 1990's. I am intrigued that the exact same arguments that are used in Cayman today to justify eating turtles were and are used in Korea for eating dogs. Koreans argue, like Caymanians and turtles, that eating dogs is part of their long cultural heritage which is much older than Caymanian heritage.

Dog meat is still eaten in Korea today and can be found on the menus of some of the leading Korean restaurants in Seoul. I suspect that turtles will be eaten in Cayman for many years to come resisting the international outcry and views of the local non Caymanian anti turtle eating community.
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Fllorence Woodson
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by Fllorence Woodson on 1/23/2014 9:41:45 AM

I love Turtle meat. I would eat this once a week if I could afford it. I believe that the only reason that people are not eating Turtle the way they were before is simple because we cannot afford it now, but whenever we can we eat and enjoy Turtle in the best place in the world - Cayman - please don't take that away from us.
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Twyla Vargas
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by Twyla Vargas on 1/23/2014 9:27:16 AM

I am sure there is only one reason Caymanians would be eating less turtle meat; and that is because they cannot afford it.
Turtle meat is Cayman's national dish. why does anyone want to take that away and replace it with ackie and salt fish. A true Caymanian will eat turtle meat until there is none left at the farm or in the wild' and I am sure if he could get a plate on his dying bead he would ask for it. Imagine when Cayman was discovered back then everyone was eating turtle meat including Columbus and Black Beard. That is why we were called Las Tortugas. Now, It is such a pity that outsiders must also dictate to the Cayman people what they should eat. Very sad. Being truthful, I would rather eat turtle meat any day instead of Spare ribs or Beef stake.
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Sean K. Bent
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by Sean K. Bent on 1/23/2014 9:22:41 AM

Yes, I had some over the holidays and it was awesome, even the menavelin. I dont eat too much though as its very fatty meat.

Turtle is endangered because of illegal poaching, ocean pollution, unchecked beach development and reckless fishing methods. We have eaten turtle meat here for centuries, so we need to stop? Our consumption of farmed meat is minimal and should be of no concern except to those who choose to eat it. Compared to the amount of turtles released vs eaten, I say the farm has done much more good than bad for the said turtles.

Fight for the wild dolphins rounded up in Japan each year. Fight for the ban of non biodegradable plastics and leave my 3 oz of turtle meat alone.

If you want to increase wild poaching of female breeders, just to release a few more hundred hatchling turtles a year, go ahead.

Maybe one or two of the hatchlings might make it to adulthood but the biggest thing stopping wild poaching of breeding females is the availability of farmed meat. Period.
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Lisa Butz
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by Lisa Butz on 1/23/2014 8:49:33 AM

I eat turtle. I'm only able to eat it during Pirates' Week due to price and availability, but as a child enjoyed it every Friday from the Farmer's Market.

I deeply resent the hypocrites of the WSPA and UK trying to stop the consumption of turtle. Deal with the fox hunting, the grouse hunting, the badger culling and the Wyoming wolf culling-all of which are wrong and widely protested by society in the affected nations.

Caymanians are not picketing. It's the typical colonial attitude of these ignorant people need saving from themselves. They'll thank us one day.
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Bob William
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by Bob William on 1/23/2014 8:45:52 AM

I prefer the chocolate turtles at Tortuga.
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Michael Davis
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by Michael Davis on 1/23/2014 8:44:26 AM

Great explanation Sam and it does make since to me. About the money you say people may give, is that the UK Grant? I thought that would be used for studies not to go to the Farm itself, did I read this incorrectly ?
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Lukishi Brown
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by Lukishi Brown on 1/23/2014 8:23:01 AM

Where is the poll????? NO, I do not and will not eat turtle meat. Thank you very much.
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Sam Small
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by Sam Small on 1/23/2014 8:15:03 AM

The turtle meat consumed in Cayman is farmed and so as in any farm production is tailored to demand. If people are silly enough to give us money then lets take it and spend it on the environmental aspects of the positive impact of the turtle release program and if we had not intervened would there be any turtles left.

Cayman should be seen as forward thinking as it knows it is traditional to eat Turtle here and so has a facility to breed and farm it and thus NOT taking the animals from the wild as happens in other parts of the world.

If the turtle farm is treating the animals in a bad way then let's bring the standards to meet international farming requirements and then we can continue with this good work and let's get an European union stamp as other countries get for the regional food so we can market our farmed meat on a global market and spread the excellent work we are doing here.

And yes I eat Turtle meat now and then; just as I eat deer and hare in the UK and other game meats which is traditional there in rural areas but is also under fire from urban folk who think that is cruel because the meat comes from cute animals.

This sort of mass outcry from city dwellers is happening all around this planet while they consume the vast majority of food with no care of how it is processed as long as it is cheap and can be cooked in a microwave in under 10 minutes. The factory ships which produces these processed fish for the meals kills far more turtles than the Cayman Islands will ever eat in a decade every year. Now that is the real issue here!
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Michael Davis
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by Michael Davis on 1/23/2014 7:15:31 AM

No, I don't eat any animal that's considered and endangered species.
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Hugh Jackson
Study asks: Do you eat turtle?
Posted by Hugh Jackson on 1/23/2014 6:29:55 AM

I eat turtle meat and hope to continue eating as part of my heritage. Here we go again outsiders trying to change our way of life. Why don't they stop the sale of bison meat in America? Or the recent auction of the black rhino?, or go after sea world for keeping dolphins and orcas in small tanks?

Always trying to change people's way of life and culture but never looking at their own issues in their own back yard. Take care of your own problems I say before you try to change other peoples way of life!!
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