With Venus currently taking a holiday, we have not been producing as many posts for the site each day as we normally do.
Instead, for the last few days I have been writing and preparing a letter to SE England Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on the issues of Romanian sheep exports and also the use of ‘box’ trailers to carry live animals on EU roads.
To all MEP’s for the constituency of South East England. 6/9/19.
Dear Sir / Madam;
I write to you as the co-founder of ‘World Animals Voice’ (WAV) – an English / German organisation – https://worldanimalsvoice.com/ and also as the founder of ‘Serbian Animals Voice’ (SAV) – https://serbiananimalsvoice.com/ – organisations which deal with Serbian stray animals and also global animal welfare issues.
I would like to bring to your attention a couple of issues which I would like a response on; especially regarding the EU perspective; how these issues are viewed with regard EU legislation, and what, if anything, the EU intends to do about each. To date we have seen no action; and yet here in the UK, some political parties are ramming it down our throats how wonderful EU membership is. So here is the chance to rectify wrongs that have been happening for years, as you will be shown on the issue of box trailers. If the EU is great, then maybe they enforce their own Regulations, rather than simply ignore them.
- Romanian Sheep Exports to the Gulf.
There has recently been an issue in the last few months regarding 70,000 live sheep which were exported from Romania to (a final destination of) Iran in the Gulf. Requests by EU Commissioner Andriukatis to Mr Petre Daea, the Romanian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, to stop the cruel shipment, was ignored and the consignment from Romania went ahead in the middle of Summer.
It seems that the Kuwaiti exporter who would normally export live sheep to the Gulf from Australia, has instead turned to Romania as a source of sheep due to restrictions / bans being imposed by the Australian authorities regarding the shipment of sheep in the Summer months; primarily due to the extreme temperatures in the Gulf.
‘Animals Australia’ (AA) had undercover investigators on standby in Kuwait to meet the arrival of the first Romanian sheep exporting ship and film the resulting cruelty. They witnessed and reported on Romanian animals suffering and dying from heat stress, being shoved into car boots and facing crude fully conscious slaughter. AA has since made a legal complaint to the EU declaring that such shipments to the Middle East breach their regulations. We understand that a Bill is going before the Romanian Parliament which would replicate the summer ban currently in place on Australian shipments.
Animals Australia investigators found Romanian sheep languishing in feedlots, in soaring Middle Eastern summer temperatures.
As an organisation, we (WAV) also tracked the entire movement of the vessel carrying the sheep, the ‘Al Shuwaikh’; from the time it left Romania through to its arrival in the Gulf. We gave daily reports of the position of the ship; a couple of posts which you can see here:
From the start, we (WAV) had concerns about this shipment and the temperatures that would be endured by the animals. Our concerns further increased when we also found out a bit later that Romania intended to export approximately 200,000 live sheep to Iran per month for a least 6 months during the European Summer period.
As you can see from our reports published on our site, on many days during the sailing, temperatures in the Gulf averaged around 46 degrees; some 16 degrees higher than the maximum permitted by the EU in Regulation 1/2005 for the ‘protection of animals during transport’. In effect, Romania; which held the EU Presidency at the time; completely ignored the regulation of the EU by allowing this consignment to take place. Concerns were also expressed by Netherlands (Dutch) MEP Anja Hazekamp, who personally witnessed the consignment leave Romania, and who has since called on the European Commission to launch an infringement procedure against Romania. We reported this: https://worldanimalsvoice.com/2019/07/17/eu-live-export-latest-mep-demands-action-against-romania-and-is-the-new-president-elect-of-the-commission-committed-to-making-a-change-for-animals/
We would like to thank Anja Hazekamp for her concerns and work in relation top this issue.
On 29th August 2019, the ‘Eurogroup for Animals’ published an article on their website relating to this same consignment. It was called ‘Nightmare comes true for Romanian sheep exported to Persian Gulf’ and can be viewed at https://www.eurogroupforanimals.org/nightmare-comes-true-for-romanian-sheep-exported-to-persian-gulf .
Along with many international animal welfare organisations, including ourselves, Eurogroup for Animals and Animals International had a meeting with the EU Commission last week (August), during which they presented some of the distressing footage from the Middle East. Both organisations are calling on the Commission to start infringement proceedings against Romania, which is an EU member state.
We (WAV) request the following information from our representatives (MEPs) :
- Is anything being done with regard to the EU commencing infringement proceedings against Romania ? – If ‘yes’, what are they ?
- Is this issue being made aware to members of the European Parliament ? – if not, then it should be. If it is, then can we rely on the support of MEP’s throughout Europe to replicate in formal EU wide legislation the summer ban currently in place on Australian shipments of sheep due to extreme temperatures ?
- Has the Bill which is supposed to be going before the Romanian Parliament which would replicate the summer ban currently in place on Australian shipments actually produced any results within Romania ? – we suggest contact is made with Romanian MEPs for up to date responses.
- What amounts of sheep animals have been exported to the Gulf region by Romania since the initial shipment described above ? – we remind that Romania intends to export approximately 200,000 live sheep to Iran per month for a least 6 months during this European Summer period. Approximately 1 million sheep in total.
- ‘Box’ Trailers
Box trailers are common within the EU for the transportation of live animals. The following photo shows a typical box trailer loaded with live sheep, entering Dover harbour.
Here is another photo of a box trailer carrying livestock photographed at Ramsgate harbour.
In July 2013 I wrote a report for the EU on the issue of how livestock transporters using box type trailers were able to ‘hide’ the fact that they were carrying live animals from the general public and emergency services. A copy of this report was provided to Bernard Van Goethem, Director responsible for animal welfare in the DG for Health and Consumers, Brussels.
On Tuesday 14th May 2013, I was subsequently provided with a written response to this
(same) letter from Mr Bernard Van Goethem, In his letter, Mr Van Goethem makes it very clear that (Page 1, Para 3):
“You alert us to the fact that transports, often do not display notices warning that live animals are being transported. This is indeed contrary to the terms of the legislation, according to which road vehicles carrying live animals “shall be clearly and visibly marked indicating the presence of live animals”.
“The main reason for this rule is to ensure that controlling authorities, and, in the case of an accident, rescue staff, are aware there are animals in the vehicle. This is of course of great importance to ensure the welfare and safety of the animals on board”.
Mr Van Goethem continues on page 2 of his letter that:
“the Commission sees that it is important that the Regulation is properly implemented. It is Member States that are primarily responsible for the daily enforcement of EU legislation”.
In closing, Mr Van Goethem declares:
“in accordance with the information available to us, the UK authorities have previously taken action against such infractions”.
As it was clear from our investigations and photographs taken at UK ports that many box type trailers were not identifying that live animals were being carried at all, we presented in the report some example signage which was thought would be adequate when fitted to all surfaces of a box trailer.
The graphic which is shown in the report shows what was presented by us as a draft suitable label in the letter from KAALE to Mr. Gavinelli on 7th February 2013. Note that in this example, the ‘live animals’ identification is written in both German and English languages. These were examples only for the production of this example graphic, and it was suggested to Mr. Gavinelli that maybe even three (3) ‘prime’ EU languages should be included onto each label. Sizes were not determined.
The example graphic provided to the EU shows an ovine (sheep or lamb); but it was suggested to the EU Commission that this could easily be amended to show either pigs or cattle / calves if required, depending on the animal species carried. Whatever, a graphic showing the picture of a farm animal was suggested to Mr. Gavinelli for inclusion into amendments for Regulation 1/2005 re the labelling / signage of trailers carrying live animals throughout Europe. As Mr Van Goethem states above; “This is indeed contrary to the terms of the legislation, according to which road vehicles carrying live animals “shall be clearly and visibly marked indicating the presence of live animals”. By ‘legislation’, he is referring to EU Regulation 1/2005 for the alleged ‘protection of animals during transport’.
By not showing any signage of animals being carried on roads within the UK; the
transporter was thus ‘non-compliant’ with the requirements of EU Council Regulation (EC) No. 1/2005 of 22nd December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations, which requires ‘clear and visible markings indicating the presence of live animals’ are shown.
Animals which are transported in ‘sealed box’ type trailers which do not even appear to show to a travelling public, and more importantly, as identified in his letter to KAALE by Mr Van Goethem, in the case of an accident, RESCUE STAFF are aware there are animals in the vehicle, should the vehicle be involved in an accident.
This is completely unacceptable under current circumstances, and back in 2013 we called for immediate changes to EU Regulation 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport to ensure that clear and permanent, non-removable signage was displayed on both sides, the front and the rear, as well as the roof and underside of ALL vehicles carrying live animals throughout the EU.
Box trailers are still used today; live animals are still transported in them today. Has any recommendations or changes been made to Regulation 1/2005 to comply with the legislation and state clearly for the emergency services that live animals are being carried ? – no.
2012 – Ramsgate harbour; a box trailer is the last vehicle in the consignment.
We request the following information:
Image below from Eyes on Animals report – ‘Importance of Access During Transport’.
EU Regulation 1/2005 on the Protection of Animals During Transport.
(as referred to in Article 6(3), Article 8(1), Article 9(1) and (2)(a))
FITNESS FOR TRANSPORT
4. When animals fall ill or are injured during transport, they shall be separated from the others and receive first-aid treatment as soon as possible. They shall be given appropriate veterinary treatment and if necessary undergo emergency slaughter or killing in a way which does not cause them any unnecessary suffering.
Question – with a box trailer as shown in the photographs above or below; how is the driver / attendant even able to see that animals carried are falling or injured ? – the construction of the trailer with its solid walls does not allow the driver / attendant to even be able to view the animals. Is he provided with x ray goggles as part of his equipment ?
Please inform how a driver / attendant knows if animals carried in a box trailer such as those shown below fall ill or are injured.
MEANS OF TRANSPORT
- Provisions for all means of transport
1.1 Means of transport, containers and their fittings shall be designed, constructed, maintained and operated so as to:
(f) provide access to the animals to allow them to be inspected and cared for;
Question – with a box trailer; how is the driver / attendant able to gain access to animals carried at the front of a box trailer; in the examples shown below; where are the access doors at the front which allow him to do this ?
- Additional provisions for transport by road or rail
2.1 Vehicles in which animals are transported shall be clearly and visibly marked indicating the presence of live animals, except when the animals are transported in containers marked in accordance with paragraph 5.1.
Question – in the box trailer photograph above – taken at Dover and Ramsgate harbours, Kent; please inform where the ‘clear and visible markings’ are indicating the presence of live animals ?
- Additional provisions for transport in containers
5.1 Containers in which animals are transported shall be clearly and visibly marked, indicating the presence of live animals and with a sign indicating the top of the container.
Question – in the box trailer photographs above – taken at Dover and Ramsgate harbours, Kent; please inform where the ‘clear and visible markings’ are indicating the presence of live animals ?
Summary – Box trailers are no good and completely unfit for the purpose of transporting live animals. They are non compliant with existing EU Regulation 1/2005 for the protection of animals during transport. As such, these trailers should not be used for the carriage of live animals. Further, with no ‘clear and visible markings’ on them, as we have shown, yet supposedly as required by the EU Regulation, should the trailer become involved in an accident and overturn onto its side; how are emergency rescue services supposed to know that live animals are in transit; and thus make provision for their rescue and attendance at an accident ?
Our report in relation to box trailers was written in 2013.
It is now 2019; 6 years later, and we know that the EU has done nothing in any way to address our concerns from 2013.
Live animals are still being transported in trailers that are non compliant with EU Regulations that are supposed to give them some protection.
What are you as MEP’s and the EU Commission going to do about the situation ? – or do we wait a further 6 years with no progress ?
We and many other animal welfare organisations welcome your comments on the issues we have raised above.
Co founder – World Animals Voice
Today, 6/9; I will try and get back to doing more regular posts for the site.