Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Sickening Disgrace of Live Animal Exports Shames Europe as Fate of Cattle Revealed

Shipments from Spain Result in Horrific Deaths for Livestock
Shipping News Feature

SPAIN – TURKEY – LIBYA – EUROPE – UK – This week a comprehensive report in the Guardian shone a light on the continuing disgrace of live animal exports and the appalling way creatures are being treated. Coincidentally today (25 February) sees the closure of the UK goverment's latest consultation on improvements to animal welfare in transport.

As we have highlighted previously there are elements in the livestock logistics trade that have no thought whatsoever for the welfare of the animals. The Guardian article is an ongoing story following the passage of two ships, the Karim Allah and Elbeik, carrying 895 calves and 1,776 cattle respectively, which have been refused entry to Turkey and Libya after departing Spanish ports on the 18 December 2020.

The authorities in those countries decided there was a risk that both vessels had animals on board that might be infected with the bovine disease bluetongue. This despite protestations from the Spanish government, and the largest Spanish beef production association Asoprovac, that the cattle emanated from bluetongue free areas of Spain.

The vessel operators have apparently not complied with requests to allow veterinary inspections, while the fear is many animals will have already died aboard the ships and living conditions are described as resembling ‘Hell’. Maria Boada Saña, a vet with NGO Animal Welfare Foundation, said she feared most of the animals on board the Karim Allah are dead as the ship had not taken aboard any foodstuffs for the creatures.

A statement from Dutch MEP Anja Hazekamp was unequivocal regarding the situation, saying:

“The only way to stop animal cruelty related to animal transport was to introduce a total ban on the export of live animals outside the EU. Both vessels concerned have EU certificate approvals, which means that they can load European animals and send them to third countries, such as Libya, Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In total there are around 80 vessels with such a certificate.”

The UK meanwhile closes that consultation today, a move prompted in part by the previous exercise in 2018 and also by the fact the country has left the EU. The current rules aimed at protecting animal welfare in transport are derived from directly applicable EU law, Council Regulation No 1/2005. The Regulation sets out the requirements that anyone transporting animals in connection with an economic activity must comply with. There are growing concerns that the current requirements for the transport of animals do not reflect the latest scientific evidence on how best to protect animal welfare during transport.

The Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC, now known as the Animal Welfare Committee) have reported to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the welfare of animals during transport following that 2018 Call for Evidence and the matters which arose from it.

The latest consultation was to seek views on ending the export of livestock and horses (not poultry) for slaughter and fattening in England and Wales, where the journeys begin in, or transit through, either country in addition to introducing further improvements to animal welfare in transport more generally.

Exports for slaughter are exports direct to a slaughterhouse. Exports for fattening are exports where the animal is to be slaughtered within 6 months of arrival. Proposals include: ending entirely the export of livestock and horses for slaughter and fattening, whether travelling from or through England and Wales; prohibiting all journeys by sea during Beaufort Wind Force of 6 or above; stricter requirements for all journeys during extreme external temperatures; better ventilation and headroom and basing space allowances for animals on allometric principles.

Photo: The Karim Allah moored in Tarragona (image courtesy of the Animal Welfare Federation).