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Friday, Nov 27, 2020

DP Presents Turtle Centre Annual Reports

DP Presents Turtle Centre Annual Reports

Hon. Moses Kirkconnell, Deputy Premier and Minister for District Administration, Tourism and Transport presents the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Annual Reports and Financial Statements of the Cayman Turtle Conservation and Education Centre Ltd at the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, 21 October 2020.
In accordance with Section 52 (8) of the Public Management and Finance Law (2018 Revision), I am pleased today to place before this Honourable House the Annual Reports and Audited Financial Statements of the Cayman Turtle Conservation and Education Centre Ltd for the 18-month fiscal period ended 31st December 2017, and the two 12-month fiscal periods ended 31st December 2018 and 31st December 2019 respectively.

Mr Speaker, this is a 100% Government-owned company, previously named Cayman Turtle Farm (1983) Ltd when it was established on 21st April 1983 when the Government purchased a company named Cayman Turtle Farm Ltd from its private owners. It was given its current name Cayman Turtle Conservation and Education Centre Ltd by a Special Resolution of Cabinet dated 16th March 2017.

The operations of the Company are governed by a Board of Directors and regulated under various laws, regulations, Departments and Statutory Authorities of the Cayman Islands Government.

For the years under review the Company traded under the brand-names:

Cayman Turtle Centre: Island Wildlife Encounter (CTC), the brand used for its visitor attraction, conservation, research, and education activities; and
Cayman Turtle Products (CTP), the brand used for its subsidised turtle meat production, distribution and sale activities.
In terms of revenue, for the latest year ended 2019 the tourist attraction business which also includes a bar and restaurant and a gift shop on-site, generated some 87.8% of the company’s revenues. Mr Speaker, members of this Honourable House are aware that the company operates in North West Point, West Bay, in close proximity to several other visitor attractions such as Dolphin Discovery, a Tortuga Rum Cake outlet, Cracked Conch and Macabuca restaurants, and a popular shore dive site.

Mr Speaker, looking at the most recent year which will likely be the one of greatest interest to Members and the general public, the 2019 audited Financial Statements show that the gross profit for the year ended 30th June 2019 was $6,319,623, which was $898,102 better than the previous year 2018. There was a net loss of $6,869,768, which was an improvement of $599,824 compared with the prior year 2018. The Company had total assets equalling $21,697,507, and total liabilities equalling $2,008,746.

Mr Speaker, in regard to the Financial Statements that accompany the Annual Reports, for all three of these fiscal periods there were unqualified audit opinions, with the latest opinion having been signed off by the Auditor General on 14th May 2020. Mr Speaker, the Auditor General found that the “… financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Company as at 31 December 2019, and its financial performance and its cash flows for [the] year ended 31 December 2019 in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards.” The audit opinions for the two other earlier fiscal periods 2017 and 2018 were similarly worded.

There is, of course, a lot of detail and analysis in these very comprehensive Annual Reports and in the Notes to the Financial Statements so I don’t intend to speak about every one of those here, but there are a few points and brief updates that I believe would be helpful to mention, especially in reference to the most recent year 2019.

As mentioned in Note 10 on page 25 of the Financial Statements, the equity injection recorded for the year was $9,500,000. Of this amount

- some $4.536 Million was applied to complete the scheduled final payment of the Notes Payable on 1 March 2019;

- approximately $0.764 Million was applied to Capital Expenditure projects;

- and the amount used to assist with the payments for personnel and utilities expenses to cover the shortfall in cash needed for these expenses was approximately CI$4.2 Million.

Mr Speaker, I am happy to highlight that from March 2019 the bond had been paid off, so the Company had no remaining long-term debt.
The Schedule of Income and Expenses in Note 19 on pages 33 and 34 of the Financial Statements show that in 2019 compared with the prior year, the “Tour” admissions revenue stream grew by some 2.8%, even though the number of cruise visitor arrivals to the island fell by 4.7% and the total number of cruise plus air visitor arrivals fell by 2.1%.

Mr Speaker, it is also interesting to note that revenues from turtle meat sales increased by 4.1%, underscoring the obvious fact that the local demand for turtle meat still shows no signs of diminishing any time in the foreseeable future. The reality is that if the supply to meet that increasing demand were not being produced by captive breeding and farming the turtles, the demand is not going to disappear but rather it would put unsustainable pressure to take turtles from the limited population in the wild around our islands. The captive breeding and harvesting functions are therefore fundamental necessities to the Company’s conservation efforts aimed at maintaining and growing the population of sea turtles in the wild.

Mr Speaker in regard to conservation efforts I am also pleased to report that during each of these three fiscal years year the Company has continued its turtle release efforts, and the Company was able to use these events as opportunities to educate attendees in regard to sea turtle conservation and marine conservation in general. During the year 2019, 376 hatchlings and 78 head-started turtles were released, including a head-start public release event held in Cayman Brac. In addition during 2019, a peer-reviewed article in the journal Molecular Ecology published the results of a scientific study using rigorous DNA analysis that showed the clear evidence of the hugely positive contribution of this program to the wild nesting green turtle population of the island. The article stated:

Quote “the farm provided a significant contribution to the wild population as 90% of the wild nesting females in Grand Cayman are offspring, full- or half-siblings of female captive breeders.” Unquote.

The article produced by researchers which represented the University of Barcelona, the Department of Environment, the University of Exeter, and the Cayman Turtle Centre in this research project that was primarily funded from the Darwin Plus program, further stated:

“Our results suggest a strong impact of the re-introduction programme on the present recovery of the wild green turtle population nesting in the Cayman Islands.”

Mr Speaker in its role as an employer, the Company has been particularly exemplary in its success in hiring and developing local people. Of a total headcount of 109 “Full-Time Equivalents”, as at the financial year-end 31st December 2019 there were only five (5) employees on Work Permits.

Mr Speaker, in closing I would like to thank the Board, Management and Staff of the Cayman Turtle Conservation and Education Centre Ltd for their hard work in producing these excellent results and these very comprehensive reports. I invite Members of this Honourable House and the public to review these three Annual Reports and accompanying Audited Financial Statements in detail.

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