AGRIFISH: some unprogressive Member States try to go “business as usual” on live animal transport
30 January 2023
While EFSA’s scientific opinions and citizens’ demands drive the conversation towards progress on animal welfare, some Member States don’t want to see serious restrictions on live animal transport in the new Transport Regulation. Luckily several voices call for ambitious change, not least the Commissioner’s.
During today’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AGRIFISH) several Member States supported an information note tabled by Portugal. The paperstates thatanimal transport is an essential part of the food production chain, and that the primary objective of the upcoming revision of the Transport Regulation should be the continued facilitation of high welfare intra community trade and export of live animals, but not be focussed on measures aimed at prohibiting or limiting certain types of transport.
It’s a completely different scenario compared to July’s 2022 AGRIFISH, when 13 Member States called for an ambitious revision of the Transport Regulation including maximum journey times as well as a shift to a meat and carcass trade.
After the paper was published last week, the Intergroup on Animal Welfare sent an open letter to the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides, asking her to take into account the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT), and to ensure that the proposal, which is expected in October 2023, remains focused on alleviating the suffering of millions of animals due to long distance transports.
Also, during today’s AGRIFISH there were several voices in the room calling for an ambitious revision: The Netherlands was the loudest, clearly opposing the paper and asking for a straightforward ban on live export. Germany, Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg opposed the paper too.
“If science and experience tell us that certain practices in transport are detrimental to the welfare of animals, which could also pose a threat to animal health and consequently to human health, I believe and you would agree with me we must find ways to adjust those practices. Doing nothing is not an option. Change is necessary because animal welfare is a key component of our sustainable food production system”, concluded the meeting Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.
“Several Member States are backing citizens in their demands for the animals: cruel transport practices need to stop, specifically live export, as we have witnessed far too many tragedies at sea and on the road. It was good to hear even “opposing” Member States mentioning a trade in meat and carcasses, as this is the only way forward. And it was important to hear that the Commissioner was firm in her defence of the revision”, commented Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals.
New report explains urgent need to protect animals in disasters
31 January 2023
Russia’s war in Ukraine in 2022 caused a myriad of challenges worldwide, but it also provided valuable lessons by highlighting what is missing for animals in the event of a disaster. Today, animals are not legally protected in disasters at EU level, although they play a vital role in people’s lives for economic and health reason
Animals in disasters: the need for protection and coordination across Europe
The imperative of protecting animals in disasters is underpinned by the human-animal bond, which influences human evacuation behaviour, the emotional support animals provide to people, the potential public health risks that disruption of health protocols can bring, and often the economic value of animals to humans. And as a result of the Ukrainian refugees crisis in 2022 by people’s willingness to save their animals in disasters. However, there is still little recognition among policymakers and humanitarian actors of the role that animals play in human life and in rebuilding communities after disaster.
Our new report suggests that the basis for the protection of animals in disasters is their legal inclusion in EU disaster law. It also outlines various actions that could be implemented by the EU and its Member States to better address the plight of animals in such circumstances. These include aligning efforts for people in disasters with those for animals, including animal welfare actors in a coordinated joint coordinated capacity during the disaster response phase, developing national disaster management plans involving animal experts, and establishing animal-friendly refugee camps in the EU, among many other initiatives.
The experience of Ukrainian refugees bringing their companion animals with them has shown how much these animals are part of their families. Today, the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) is responsible for humanitarian assistance and civil protection in the European Union. Its main instrument – Union Civil Protection Mechanism – recognises in its recitals the need to “reduce the vulnerability of animal welfare and wildlife” as part of disaster risk prevention and management, but there is no obligation to cover animals in terms of protection. Recognising the vital role these animals play in people’s lives could provide a legal basis for DG ECHO to extend its protection efforts to companion animals as family members. Other categories of animals should also benefit from legal protection in the event of a disaster, the legal grounds for which should be examined.
While achieving protection for all species in disasters remains a long term goal, the immediate solution lies in the legal inclusion of animals into disaster law in the EU with the aim of involving animal welfare actors in the development of disaster management plans, and in a coordinated disaster response mechanism in the EU. There is great potential for the EU, Member States and NGOs to work together to be better prepared for disasters in the long term.
On February 1st it will be the anniversary of the death of Jill Phipps; an animal activist who was murdered at Coventry by a truck carrying live baby calves into Coventry airport for export. I remember it very well as at the time I was entirely involved with animal exports campaigns from the port of Dover, Kent; England.
But the campaigns, protests and anti export feelings at Dover had reached a real fever pitch; as you can see in the following video – a typical day around Dover re live export – and as such, many of the ferry companies which used to take live animal transporters as part of their daily business decided to say ‘no more’ to accepting the trade and thus rejected it. The exporters were becoming isolated with their sordid trade and were trying every port (big or small) in Southern England to get their animals over the water.
Video – a typical protest day at Dover and the surrounding area:
At 27+ seconds you can see a ‘Gilder’ export truck – operated by brother GG Gilder – see Peter Gilder below.
The exporters and hauliers were in utter crisis as Dover port turned its back on the trade and would not accept it – aka people power !, and as a result the export industry had to turn to using other ports in Southern England and other means (ie by air) of getting live animals into Europe.
Also, at the same time, one of the main exporters / hauliers who constantly used Dover, named Peter Gilder, took Dover port to the high court for refusing the trade. The exporters and hauliers wanted to get Dover open again for their trade of death.
In the meantime whilst Dover was refusing the trade, small port towns such as Shoreham, Brightlingsea, and Ipswich were all used (as well as a few others) as trial ports in which the exporters attempted to continue their business.
In this next video you can see the huge public outcry and resultant protests at Shoreham (near to Brighton) about this small port being used for the export of live animals. For each shipment, huge numbers of police from London (the Met police) had to be shipped in to join local police for every export consignment – this is where the saying ‘I’ve met the Met, and got the bruises to prove it’ was originated.
This film below (and dedicated to Jill) follows weeks of daily demonstrations by hundreds and, at times, thousands of everyday people, who converged on a small harbour port in West Sussex, England, to protest and show their disgust about the export into Mainland Europe of thousands of calves, cattle and sheep.
Thousands of young calves were also destined for the veal crates, a system which was already banned in the UK where calves are kept locked into tiny boxes, only able to lay or stand, and are chained or tethered, forced to drink iron deficient milk substitute so as to satisfy those who like their flesh (veal) light rose coloured and tender. This system was already banned in the UK and so farmers were exporting these baby (male) animals to Europe where crating was still legal. How hypocritical !, the UK government banned the crates and then allowed male calves to be exported to Europe for crating !! – it was only the males which were exported, as male calves do not produce milk and thus are not used as replacements in the herd; they are essentially a ‘by product’; one which was used for veal meat production.
The film demonstrates the power of ordinary animal supportive people, when they get together and fight for the rights of those who do not have a voice.
Within weeks, these advocates for animals across Southern England managed to stop in their tracks, the big business who were profiteering from what people saw as a trade in suffering. Other harbour ports across Southern England also saw these exports stopped, due to persistent, big and daily demonstrations. Ordinary folk, from all walks of life, young and not so young, put their own liberty and personal safety at risk to try and protect animals as well as to highlight this issue of live animal exports.
Video – 1995 – the protest at Shoreham.
… and also at Brightlingsea,
Daily protests by the entire town folk of Brightlingsea in Essex against live animal exports in 1995, involved the crazy sight of hundreds of police officers (sometimes in full riot gear) forcing trucks full of sheep through narrow streets against a massive human blockade of outraged local residents. This is as good as people power gets, and the trade was eventually banned.
Video – the battle of Brightlingsea:
It was very hypocritical and involved a government exporting live calves from the UK to be incarcerated into ‘veal crates’, a system which the British had already banned. So here we were, a ban on veal crates, and a government which allowed calves to be exported to the very systems that they had banned – was it any wonder that people were bummed off (to put it mildly !).
Above – crated calves.
The exporters also attempted to air freight animals to Europe. Coventry airport, where our Jill was murdered, was one such airport.
Above – BJ – Calf Exporter, Arms Dealer and Drug Smuggler – all round no good.
The live calf shipments from Coventry airport were operated by a fellow named Barett Jolley (BJ). He was operating an aircraft from Coventry, which crashed in bad weather on the return flight, killing all five crew members. I wrote more about it recently:
After the tragic events at Coventry which included the death of our Jill, BJ was handed a 20 year jail sentence due to his attempted smuggling of £22 million of Cocaine into Southend airport which is on the SE coast of England.
He smuggled arms, he exported live veal calves; he attempted to smuggle drugs into the UK, and yet he was given police protection constantly at Coventry during the calf export protests, at which our dear Jill was killed.
I include another link to Jill which covers several posts you can read at your pleasure if you wish ::
We’re gearing up foran amazing year ahead for animals, thanks to your incredible support.
A major area of focus is staff training and development. To this end, we have recently hired and begun training 10 new veterinary assistants to join our medical team. From dressing wounds, to giving medication, to helping with feeding, they will help make sure that animals get all the care they need to recover as quickly as possible.
We reach higher every year because the animals deserve it, and your support has made so many dreams come true.
Do you know someone passionate about animal protection who’s ready for a new life adventure?
Animal Aid is NOW HIRING!
Click here for detailed information about a variety of open positions for Indian Nationals and International applicants both, from Veterinarian to Volunteer Coordinator to Videographer!
Apollo’s jaw was broken, but not his spirit!
With his jaw broken in two, this beautiful boy seemed to plead to his rescuers to help him. He couldn’t close or move his jaw, and his face showed utter bewilderment. But he shyly turned on his back in an act of pure submission, his tail wagging as if asking for help to stop the pain.
When we sedated him and saw the full extent of the fractures in his jaw, we were worried we might not be able to save him. But we tried our best. And to our delight, he responded extremely well to the sutures, and by his third day was ready to start slurping up his liquid diet.
From that moment, we knew the incredibly sweet Apollo was going to thrive!
The family who feeds him hadn’t seen him for days andthought he was never coming home again.We can only imagine the difficulty he had making his journey home–perhaps from a great distance, and in excruciating pain and confusion. He must have used every ounce of his remaining strength just to make it home.
When we rescued him, he was too weak to resist, and he quietly endured the removal of maggots infesting his wound despite the pain he must have been in. But as he healed, his eyes and entire face transformed. He always had a few words for us during the weeks of wound dressings that followed, but this was a good sign. It meant he was strong enough to fight for his life. He was also strong enough to start demanding cuddles!
From around the world, volunteers are bringing love to their beloved animals.
From Handicapped Heaven, to the Rehabilitation area, to Oldies and up to Peace Place and Sanctuary, everywhere we look we see animals basking in the love and attentionshowered on them from volunteers from around the world!
Over there brushing a calf we see Dharmada, who has volunteered many times and especially loves spending time with the cows; over here we see Robin at work with an elderly dog in her arms; and busily refilling water bowls, sweeping, and stopping frequently for a cuddle is Sarah.
In the Rehabilitation area we see Teresa massaging the shoulders of a road accident survivor; here too is Kitty whose multiple volunteering weeks have brought her loving hands to once again massage the hind limbs of paralysed dogs on a chilly morning.
And there are first-time-but-not-final-time volunteers Jane and Melanie, who “hit the ground running” with gentle grace and so much loving kindness for the animals.
Learn more about volunteering:
No matter where you are on your life journey, having an up-to-date estate plan is essential. You may think estate planning is complex and expensive, but FreeWill’s online tool is free to use and guides you through the process with ease.
Planning your estate is one thoughtful action that puts you one step closer to achieving your goals, taking care of yourself, and finding peace of mind.
If you choose, FreeWill can help you pay it forward to street animals by naming AAU in your estate plan
Note: FreeWill’s self-help estate planning solutions are valid for the disposition of property located in the fifty states and DC. Will-makers residing outside of the United States should consult with a local lawyer before using FreeWill’s tools.
Saving the life of a street animallooks good on you.
100% of the proceeds go to our street animal rescues
Crab and lobster welfare takes a step forward with first UK supermarket benchmark
27 January 2023
Following the inclusion of decapod crustaceans (such as crabs, lobsters and prawns) – in the UK Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022, Crustacean Compassion have launched the first UK industry benchmark ‘The Snapshot’ to assess welfare standards for decapod crustaceans within the UK food supply chain.
30 UK companies – including all major supermarkets – were evaluated in the benchmark, revealing that only 50% of companies have developed formal policies on some aspect of decapod crustacean welfare, and only one is promoting decapod welfare to consumers.
On average, retailers are leading the way in areas of welfare policy, management and reporting.
The Snapshot report is the first assessment of leading seafood producers, processors, retailers and wholesalers in the UK on welfare standards for decapod crustaceans such as crabs, lobsters and prawns.
Commissioned by our member organisation, Crustacean Compassion, and facilitated by Chronos Sustainability, The Snapshot was released this week.
Each year, more than 420 million crabs, lobsters, langoustines and prawn/shrimp are caught in the UK with a further 5 billion prawns and other crustaceans being imported from overseas. The Snapshot looks at their welfare at all stages of the supply chain: capture and handling, holding and storage, transport, mutilations, stunning and slaughter.
The Snapshot assessed 30 UK seafood companies, including household name brands, all major supermarkets and more localised seafood specialists. The report reveals that 70% of companies consider the welfare of crustaceans to be a business issue, in part due to growing consumer concerns. Contrary to this, only 50% have developed formal welfare policies.
While retailers are leading the way across several key areas, including policy commitment, enforcing their policies and reporting of welfare standards, only one company assessed is promoting decapod crustacean welfare to their customers – and this is a producer, not a retailer.
The benchmark will be repeated later in 2023 and will show which companies are taking decapod welfare seriously and making improvements in this vital area. Whilst this initial report does not share company scores, subsequent reports will publish all company scores and a ranking table, allowing consumers to make informed choices for higher-welfare products that avoid inhumane practices such as eyestalk ablation and slaughter through drowning, asphyxiation and boiling alive.
The development of The Snapshot involved consultation with industry, and this continued engagement will ensure that decapods, companies and consumers will all benefit.
Since animals like crabs and lobsters were legally recognised as sentient and able to feel pain, companies have rightly been under increased scrutiny about how their practices impact the welfare of the animals involved. The Snapshot will show how decapod welfare is currently being addressed across the industry right now and will drive welfare improvements across the sector. Customers expect to be able to buy seafood that has been produced to high standards of animal welfare and we have been asked which brands and companies have the most humane practices. The food industry has a responsibility to both meet those expectations and provide the necessary information to enable consumers to make informed choices.
It is estimated that between 50,000 to 100,000 Galgohunting dogs are killed in Spain every year in what has come to be known as the “Holocaust of Greyhounds”, but it’s difficult to know for sure, because nobody knows exactly how many are bred every year.
A bill designed to strengthen animal rights in Spain could outlaw hunting with dogs.
The proposal would reform the treatment of domestic and wild animals in captivity. It includes plans to ban the sale of pets in stores, turn zoos into wildlife recovery centres, and impose prison sentences for animal abusers.
However, Spain’s ruling Socialist party, which introduced the bill in 2022, was forced to backtrack last month following protests in rural areas. With elections looming later this year, the party is cautious of upsetting this key voter base.