Bluetongue has broken out from under 2,671 cattle on board two large livestock transport ships in the Mediterranean. The two animal transport ships are currently anchored off ports in Cyprus and Sardinia.
The ships were bound for Libya, but bluetongue broke out during transport at sea. The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food says the animals have left the country with health certificates. The cattle come from Gebieden that are free of bluetongue.
The outbreak of the disease has fatal consequences for the animals. Both Cypriot and Spanish authorities do not intervene for various reasons. Animal protection organizations fear that the living animals on board will go through a real hell.
The 2,671 calves and cows were intended for export to the Middle East, but have now been floating around on the two cargo ships Elbeik and Karim Allah since mid-December.
The ships left Spanish ports in December but were refused arrival in Turkey on suspicion of bluetongue. The ships then left for Libya, but were not allowed to moor there either, after which the ships sailed back to Europe.
Animal rights activists in several countries are now demanding veterinary inspection of the sick animals on board. On Thursday morning, a special committee of inquiry from the European Parliament will debate the current EU rules for the long-distance transport of live animals within the European Union. Six experts will help uncover current practices of long-distance transport of live animals within the EU.
In urgent questions to the European Commission, the Party for the Animals demands that the animals are put out of their misery as soon as possible and that the transport license of both ships is withdrawn. The party has also again called for a total ban on the export of live animals to countries outside the European Union.
MEP Anja Hazekamp calls it “incomprehensible” that there is no contingency plan for sea transports that take weeks to months. “This is a true torture for the animals that have been on board the rickety and totally unsuitable ships for more than two months and no one intervenes.
As long as these kinds of barbaric transports are not banned, there should at least be a contingency plan in place so that action can be taken if things go wrong, ”says Hazekamp.
The MEP points out that the event is not an isolated event. “This is yet another shipping disaster where major problems arise and thousands of animals are deliberately put into horrible situations. The European Commission does not want to start tightening up the rules for animal transport until 2023. We cannot leave animals to their own devices all this time, ”says Hazekamp.