They are two of the richest and most famous men in Britain. But it appears that Sir Richard Branson and Sir Paul McCartney may be about to have a falling out with each other, as Anthony Bond reports in this article for London’s Daily Mail.
The pair are at loggerheads over a farm in the Caribbean which breeds turtles for food.
Last month Sir Paul threw his weight behind a campaign to end the breeding of sea turtles at The Cayman Turtle Farm in the Cayman Islands.
But after visiting the islands Sir Richard has now controversially said that he backs the turtle farm.
A World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) investigation has accused the facility of cruelty and former Beatle Sir Paul believes there is no humane way to farm turtles.
But Sir Richard has now come out in favour of the farm despite saying that his view will attract criticism from the Oceanic Elders group which looks at addressing world problems.
In an interview with Cayman 27 news channel Sir Richard said: ‘I haven’t actually visited the farm but I have asked an awful lot of questions while I have been here.
‘From afar I was against the farm. I have listened to people locally and I personally think the farm is a good idea and the reason I think that is you are one of the few countries that ban the killing of the turtles in the ocean so turtles are protected in the ocean.
‘In the Virgin Islands you can catch turtles and drag them out of the sea and the turtle farm avoids that having to happen.
‘The second thing is the turtle farm is one of your biggest tourist attractions. It does supply a little bit of food for the people who traditionally have liked to eat turtle meat and I think there are some improvements that can be made to the farm but all in all I think it serves a positive need rather than a negative need.
‘I am sure I will get some criticism from the Oceanic Elders when I go back for taking that stance but that is what I believe from being here.’
On his blog he added: ‘What I’ve learnt from my visit is that unlike many other islands in the Caribbean, the Government have banned the hunting and killing of turtles in the sea.
‘By breeding the turtles on land, they’ve created the biggest tourist attraction in the Cayman Islands and satisfied the few locals who continue to eat turtles as part of their age-old tradition.
‘Obviously for many of us around the world we’d prefer that didn’t happen but in my opinion it’s certainly better than taking them from the sea.
‘I’ve met the Chief Minister about the farm and he agrees there are some improvements that need to be made.
‘There are still too many kept in one tank at a time and the farm needs to ensure there are regular checks of the water quality and also monitor the health of the turtles.
‘The local experts assured me changes were happening and the farm also releases a lot into the ocean which is building up the numbers in the wild.
‘All in all I believe the Cayman Islands do a fine job protecting their oceans, as well as the turtles and other species in them. There is still more to do but there are many bigger battles for the OceanElders and WSPA to fight.’
Last month Sir Paul McCartney threw his support behind a campaign to end the breeding of sea turtles for food.
The facility in the Cayman Islands was identified by officials at the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) as the world’s last surviving commercial turtle farm.
Staff at the base breed the endangered marine reptiles for human consumption, and The Beatles star joined the WSPA’s campaign to end the trade.
In a post on his official website, McCartney wrote: ‘The Cayman Turtle Farm is the last place on Earth that breeds endangered sea turtles for food. On Twitter, he added: ‘There is no humane way to farm sea turtles. Support WSPA campaign to stop sea turtle farming.’
A WSPA spokesman said: ‘To have Sir Paul McCartney’s support for this campaign is tremendous and we hope that people will join him and WSPA in helping to save the Cayman Islands’ green sea turtles.’