- Tram Ho
Cows and sheep starved at sea
At the end of December last year, nearly 1,800 cows boarded a ship called Elbeik, which left Spain for Turkey. The trip is intended to last only about 11 days, after which the cattle will be sold to abattoirs, where they are slaughtered by the most gentle method in accordance with religious regulations.
But that was the beginning of a turbulent journey. In the next 3 months, while the Covid-19 pandemic began to inflict heavy blows on the global shipping industry, the Elbeik was unable to unload on time. According to an investigation by the Spanish government, the cows were starved. Nearly 10% were dead, with the bodies thrown into the sea or even rotting right on board the ship, among the living cows. When the ship returned to Spain, officials decided the remaining 1,600 cattle were too ill to be sold and had to be culled.
The Elbeik has become the most prominent example of a rapidly growing number of incidents, leading many to petition for a complete ban on the cross-border trade in live animals. This is a controversial business but also has a scale of up to 18 billion USD. However, the pandemic has left the nearly 2 billion cows, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens that are exported each year facing dire conditions.
Cattle and poultry were stuck on ships floating at sea because the journey took much longer than expected, while the safety checks were very superficial. Because sick animals also pose health risks to humans, an increasing number of countries have enacted orders to limit or even ban the cross-border trade in live animals.
The EU, which accounts for more than 75% of the world’s total live animal exports, has “failed to ensure the safety of animals”, according to a newly released report. It is expected that from now until the end of the year, the EU will propose a new law to tighten requirements for exporting companies. The UK alone has gone further with the intention of banning the transport of large volumes of live animals to slaughterhouses, although no specific timeline has been given. In April, New Zealand announced it would ban live animal trading by 2023.
In 2019, around 39 million tons of meat were exported worldwide. This is all meat that has gone through the slaughterhouse, packaged and frozen – a process that is both more profitable for meat producers and avoids health and safety issues. However, in recent years, the demand for meat in countries such as China and Vietnam has increased sharply, along with the Muslim animal meat market also skyrocketing, making import and export of live livestock and poultry bustling. more rhythm. The price of live cattle exported from Australia is currently at a record high.
Even under normal circumstances, live animals are treated not much differently from ordinary goods. A train full of sheep is operated like a train carrying crates of woolen sweaters. Maarten Vlag, secretary of the Paris shipping union, which oversees ports from Britain to Russia, said: “We only check if the vessel is overloaded, there is almost no difference between the two. 10,000 containers and 10,000 live animals”.
Thousands of animals perished at sea. Last spring, in addition to the cows on the Elbeik, 800 other cows on a ship bound for Turkey also fell into the same situation. Last year, nearly 6,000 livestock and more than 40 sailors were killed when the ship malfunctioned and sank off the coast of Japan. In 2019, 14,000 sheep died in a boat accident in Romania.
Need a stricter mechanism
The EU has specialized veterinary inspectors in ports to ensure ships are qualified to transport animals. However, the process is quite lax. If the herd gets sick there probably won’t be anyone to take care of them. Only Australia requires a veterinarian on board if the voyage lasts more than 10 days. However, the EU is considering applying a similar rule.
Animal rights organizations are calling for a veterinarian to be mandatory, even if it is just a short trip, because prolonged journeys are very common, especially during the current pandemic. .
Australia is also the only country that requires exporting companies to build a supply chain that will closely monitor the journey of cattle from the moment they are loaded onto the ship until they reach the slaughterhouse overseas. and handled in a humane manner.
In addition, they must keep a record of the animal mortality rate and notify the agricultural agency if the rate exceeds 0.5%. In 2020, Australia exported more than 1 million live cattle by sea and ships recorded a mortality rate of 0.11%, or about 1,224 heads.
“Animals are tormented day after day by high temperatures. They are starved, trampled on in tight spaces, treated badly but not dead. Mortality is just a bad situation. most they have to go through,” said Sue Foster, a spokesman for Vets Against Live Exports, an organization that fights against animal exports.
Refer to Bloomberg
Source : Genk