Cayman Turtle Farm undergoes review
(CNS): An independent review of the Cayman Turtle Farm (CTF) began Monday, following worrying revelations by an animal activist group. A four member team, which includes vets and scientists but no animal welfare experts, will be at the site in West Bay until Wednesday, and their report is expected in January. The aim of the inspection is to determine whether standards of care meet those required to ensure that the operation is conducted in a “humane manner” and examine standards of husbandry. Although the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) uncovered a number of major concerns at the farm in a report published earlier this year, the animal welfare group has not been invited to take part in this review. The group raised concerns that the team of inspectors may be compromised.
The team includes Dr. Annette Broderick, a Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology who has worked with the Farm in the past, and Professor Brendan Godley, a marine conservation scientist and qualified vet. Mt. Godley has already conducted a review of the farm in the past, which may be what the WSPA has said could lead to bias.
In addition, the animal rights activists said that the reviewers are planning to compare the practices employed at the CTF with standards of practice in other “domestic livestock production facilities”.
However, the WSPA has said that, as green sea turtles are not domesticated animals, comparing their production with standards applied to intensive farmed chickens is inappropriate. It has also raised concerns that the welfare of turtles is not part of the review.
In correspondence with the WSPA recently, Tim Adam, managing director of the turtle farm, said that the inspectors are internationally known sea turtle experts and the farm believes they will conduct a fair inspection.
Mr. Adam said, “It is important for the inspection team to maintain its independence and there would likely be a perception of bias if a representative of WSPA, which has campaigned against the CTF, were added. Indeed none of our staff from the CTF will be on the inspection team, since that also would likely lead to the report being discredited as biased.”
Disappointed that it has been excluded from the “independent” review of the Farm and surprised that two of the participants in what is being billed as an “independent” review have close professional ties to the Cayman Turtle Farm, the WSPA said Monday that it had 'severe concerns' that the independence of the review is already compromised and that the welfare of the sea turtles will not be at the heart of this inspection.
“We don’t believe this is either in the best interests of the farm or will provide the Caymanian people with the independent assurances they are demanding, that the Farm is managing the turtles properly,” the WSPA said in a statement. “However we genuinely hope – in the interests of the turtles – to be proven wrong in this instance and that the farm will proceed with total transparency and move to involve, if not us, another leading world-renowned global animal welfare organisation with the expertise to usefully input in to this assessment.”
According to the terms of reference, the inspectors will examine: water quality; stocking densities; treatment and prevention of disease and injury; levels and causes of mortality; levels (if any) of severe injuries; levels (if any) of congenital deformities; handling of animals by guests (including safety of both animals and guests); slaughter methods and practice.
The scientists are also being asked to suggest any reasonable steps by which animal husbandry and care might be improved at the farm and to comment on the contribution the CTF makes to conservation of turtle species. The terms of reference also indicate that the inspection will be made on the ‘basis of the standards of practice that would apply to a comparable intensive livestock production' in facilities in the UK or USA.
In his previous review of the old Cayman Turtle Farm site in 2002, Professor Godley had noted some concerns at the farm regarding the feed, diseases and mortality rates, but had stated that the standards were “sufficiently high” to meet CITES requirements.
CNS has contacted the CTF for comment regarding the questions surrounding the independence of the inspectors and the failure to include an animal welfare expert in the team, but is still awaiting a response.
See Prof Godfrey’s earlier report below and details of the review team.
See related story on CNS: Report-slams-turtle-farm
|CTF Godley review pt1.pdf.pdf||840.98 KB|
|CTF review team.pdf||312.24 KB|
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