New study examines for the first time the seaworthiness of 78 EU-certified animal transport vessels.
European NGOs call for a ban on exports of live animals
The EU is exporting its surplus live animal production to third countries in livestock vessels.
Specifically, Spain is one of the main exporters of the EU and its shipments of live animals to third countries do not stop increasing.
In 2020, it exported 193,085 cattle; 9.2% more than the previous year and 906,517 sheep; 20% more than in 2019.
The recent study carried out by the organizations Robin des Bois (France), Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF, Germany) and Animal Welfare Association Zurich (TSB Zürich, Switzerland) examines for the first time the seaworthiness of the 78 certified livestock transport vessels operating in the EU and reaches devastating conclusions:
“Livestock ships are the most dangerous in the world. At an average age of 41, the ships are too old, contribute to the pollution of the seas, cause enormous animal suffering, drive mostly under black flags of convenience, and have been approved for navigation by companies doubtful »
(Conclusions of the authors of the report).
Only 6% of the approved vessels were built to transport animals.
Of the 78 ships certified by the EU, only five were built expressly for the transport of live animals.
73 ships were previously used as container ships, ferries or freighters (!!)
‘The global average age of shipbreaking ships is 30 years. However, the 78 vessels evaluated were already an average of 29 years old when they became EU approved livestock transport vessels. They already had a useful life behind them »
(Conclusions of the authors of the report).
Furthermore, these conversions do not take into account the behavior and needs of the animals during sea transport, or which species are to be transported.
Only 6% of EU approved vessels were originally built to transport animals, which means that 94% of vessels were built without taking into account the specific needs of each species.
The retrofitting of old ships involves greater safety risks as they were not originally designed for additional cargo.
Increasing additional cargo decks is a problem as they shift the ships’ center of gravity further up.
In heavy seas and with moving cargo, like animals, the ship loses stability more quickly.
In fact, this has been the cause of several accidents in recent years, the authors report.
Usual practice: Changes of ownership and flags of convenience to avoid responsibilities
Frequent changes of ownership, registration under flags of convenience and classification of vessels in companies not recognized internationally, increase the risk for the crew, animals and the environment.
According to the Paris Memorandum, 43 ships (55%) sail under the flags of risk and high risk countries.
In addition, 55 vessels, 71%, passed inspection by auditing companies whose quality has been classified from low to very low. The report highlights that they have issued certificates to many banned and substandard vessels.
Most of the owners are small shipping companies. Of the 78 authorized vessels, only 21 belong to shipowners based in the European Union. 11 of these 21 vessels are established in the European Union, but for financial reasons they relocate their vessels on the high seas, allowing them to circumvent European standards on salaries and social protection for crews.
The authors list several cases in which shipowners avoided prosecution and assumption of costs after accidents by organizing their own bankruptcy. The vessels are then quickly sold to other companies and the former owners continue to use other company names.
A long list of infractions
Only 5 of the 78 cattle trucks have not yet had to put up with a shutdown. 53 ships have been detained multiple times due to massive violations of the Paris Memorandum.
“Despite ongoing violations of animal welfare and endangering the seas, ship operators are still in business”
(Report of Robin des Bois, AWF, and TSB Zurich)
In the last two years alone, 2,504 offenses were officially recorded on the 78 vessels authorized by the EU.
Non-compliances were recorded in 90% of the ships in terms of navigation safety, in 78% in terms of life-saving devices, in 64% in terms of pollution prevention and in 62% in terms of to the sealing conditions.
And I mean…A good example is the transport ship “Karim Allah”, on which 895 calves were loaded off the Spanish coast of Cartagena in December 2020 and suffered in this coffin for 2 to 3 months and most of them also died.
The “Karim Allah” was built in 1965, was initially approved as a car ferry and was later converted into an animal transport ship. In 2016 activists from the animal rights organization “Animal Welfare Foundation” had the chance to get on the ship.
Their conclusion after the visit:
“It shouldn’t actually have a permit for the transport of animals.
There are risks of injury everywhere.
The ramps are steep, the construction is not made for animals at all.
When the animals run into the ship, they have to go down steep ramps.
There are places where the animals do not go any further and are then tormented with electric drivers.
The ship has one deck, so not even a person can walk upright, calves are regularly loaded there, which is illegal”.
The animals could not be looked after on this narrow deck. “Photo documentation” shows that dead animals are regularly thrown overboard.
In these unsuitable, outdated sea coffins, in addition to the weeks of transport, the animals suffer from injuries, poor ventilation, thirst and hunger, the animals have to lie in their own excrement, injured animals and sick animals are not cared for.
These tragedies with animal transport, regardless of whether by ship or truck, take place because there is no time limit for animal transport. In principle, the animals can be transported endlessly.
In addition, the EU regulation contains a large number of imprecise provisions, which in practice are always interpreted to the detriment of the animals.
And then the conditions for the animals become even more hell.
Image: Manfred Karremann
The picture of the hanging cow, by Manfred Karremann (author of the film “Geheimsache Tiertransports”= secret thing animal transports), which is already fifteen years old, is in reality still relevant.
There are many different ships and each time different cattle are unloaded from ships using winches and cranes. Still.
Nobody cares anymore about the laws, animal transports are a lucrative business that, with the generous support of our EU Commission, can be kept alive and is even booming.
My best regards to all, Venus