CTF evidence “watertight”
(CNS): The global animal protection group calling for the Cayman Turtle Farm to alter its model and become a conservation facility rather than a farm is standing by its report, saying it is based on “watertight evidence”. Following a statement released by the Farm on Friday criticising the WSPA and denying the findings, the activists have said their claims are based on “photographic evidence and peer reviewed scientific analysis”, which revealed many welfare issues, including overcrowding, disease, cannibalism and unnecessary prolonged suffering. The WSPA said it has tried to work with the CTF and only in the face of its failure to act has it gone public with the damning report in the hope that it will move to address the concerns raised by the research.
“Our claims against the Cayman Turtle Farm (CTF) are founded on evidence gathered during a comprehensive, 18 month investigation into the treatment of the sea turtles at the CTF,” the World Society for the Protection of Animals said Monday in a statement released to the press. “This evidence is the basis for our compelling arguments against the CTF and is in the form of footage and photographic evidence and peer reviewed scientific analysis. WSPA does not initiate campaigns such as this without watertight evidence.”
The activists explained that the investigation was carried out following a number of complaints made last year by scientific experts and visitors to the CTF, relating to the animal welfare conditions.
“To verify these concerns, we conducted our investigation in association with a number of research partners, and received two Freedom of Information (FOI) requests directly from the CTF,” a spokesperson for WSPA stated. “Our findings validated these concerns and have provided clear evidence of a range of different welfare related issues including but not restricted to: overcrowding, unsuitable captive conditions; disease; cannibalism; and unnecessary prolonged suffering.”
However, in the face of the damning report the CTF released a statement in which it denied the accusations claiming, despite the photographs to the contrary, that there was “no evidence of the kinds of injuries or defects among the turtles” shown in the report and the charity was on a “quest to shut down sea turtle farming.”
Although the organization has extensive footage of diseased and injured turtles, the Farm said that it had “succeeded in maintaining the health and well-being” of the turtles through veterinary treatment protocols and methods.
In its statement on Monday the WSPA added that the evidence generated by its broad investigation demonstrated that the Farm was not only a potential threat to wild turtle conservation efforts it was also a potential threat to human health as well.
“Independent experts and leading scientists from institutions such as the University of Oxford, Murdoch University and the Emergent Disease Foundation have reviewed and endorsed our evidence. Furthermore, well established conservation bodies such as the Sea Turtle Conservancy, and Caribbean conservation organizations’ such as YWF-KIDO Foundation in Grenada (which is also part of WIDECAST) and FAADA (Spanish Foundation for the Protection of Animal), are also in support of our recommendations to the farm,” the WSPA added.
Acknowledging that the CTF has released some 31, 000 sea turtles since 1968, only 11 of the 200 sea turtles nesting on local beaches this year had Turtle Farm tags. The Farm also admitted in documents released under the FOI law that the number of animals released is falling, with an average of only 27 turtles per year over the last five years. The FOI request also showed that the extremely poor welfare conditions at the CTF are causing a high degree of sea turtle mortality. Over the last five years at least 300 green sea turtles have died on a yearly basis. This means that between 2007 and 2011 alone 2,299 green sea turtles have died at the farm outside of those slaughtered for meat.
WSPA said it is not calling for the CTF to shut down all of its operations but to operate as a rehabilitation release, research and education facility that can still draw tourists. It recommends a shift away from commercial production for human consumption to conservation, but said the Farm should “immediately halt the inhumane public handling of turtles due to the animal welfare concerns associated with this activity.”
The charity said it first contacted the farm in May to express concerns. “We met with relevant CTF stakeholders in July 2012 to explore ways to collaborate; agreed a two month consideration period when it was made clear that the issue needed to be considered by senior politicians and subsequently provided a five week extension when the CTF failed to meet the agreed deadline,” it added.
Although the CTF claims to be taking the evidence seriously, as it has commission an independent review for December, the WSPA said that because of the repeated inaction despite its attempts to work with the farm as well as the recent tragic incident loss of 300 more turtles after a tank failed during a leak repair, it had come to the conclusion that the Farm has little interest in working with it to find a solution to the animal welfare issues.
“This has left us with no option but to share our concerns with the general public, which we hope will encourage the CTF to address our concerns,” the charity stated.
It is clear that the organisation intends to push ahead with the campaign. Since going public with the report last week and creating a website at the weekend, which includes the visual and scientific evidence it uncovered during its research at CTF, some 8,800 people have signed up to join the campaign. Although the Farm has faced international criticisms in the past, this is the first time it has faced a campaign of such magnitude backed by scientific and visual evidence and spearheaded by a well-known and well respected global organisation.
See full statement from WSPA below and more details at www.stopseaturtlefarm.org
Related article on CNS story along with government statements.
Photos supplied by WSPA.
|WSPA Sea Turtle Response 15-10-12 (1).doc||277.5 KB|
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