The shipping world is abuzz with the news of livestock carriers in distress. The ships in question have been stranded in Spain since last Christmas over coronavirus restrictions. The livestock ships are unable to dock at any port, as no port is allowing them entry fearing disease outbreak.
One of the ships is now at the Cartagena port in Spain but they have no idea what to do with the cattle they are carrying. Speculation is rife that the livestock might have died by now.
Ships Denied Entry Fearing Disease
Both the ships left their respective Spanish ports with the livestock cargo, just before Christmas. However, both ships were denied entry by ports in countries like Turkey and Libya. They suspected a Bovine BlueTongue onboard the livestock on the ship.
However, the Spanish government has given assurance that the cattle didn’t come from any BlueTongue affected region and don’t have the disease. EvenAsoprovac, the largest beef producer of Spain reaffirmed that
Turkey had initially agreed to take the delivery of the cattle cargo but backtracked later in fear of a disease outbreak. They rejected the cargo on arrival although they said they were confirmed that the cattle didn’t have BlueTongue
The ship Karim Allah which carried 895 calves is now at Cartagena port while the other ship, Elbeik is on Turkish waters somewhere near Cyprus coast. Elbeik has 1776 animals onboard.
Ships Evading Inspection
The Director of Spain’s Animal Equality, Silvia Barquero acknowledged the death of the livestock, saying some might be dead but those alive are living in hell.
The ships are due for any official inspection. An inspection was due last week when they were in Sardinia and Cyprus. However, none of the ships asked shore officials for a vet to examine the cattle on board.
The ships have been declared a failed operation by the Spanish agriculture ministry as the owners couldn’t sell them anywhere – neither Turkey nor Libya.
“Karim Allah, now arriving in Cartagena, left Spain with animals that had the corresponding health certificates and which were from areas free of bluetongue. The animals, therefore, left the port of Cartagena in good health”, said a spokesperson from the ministry.
At least 100 animals on the ship might be dead, said Maria Boada Saña, a vet with NGO Animal Welfare Foundation. The ship hasn’t made any attempt to enter Spain despite being at Cartagena port.
“The Karim Allah arrived Sunday night at Cartagena, sailing away from a planned veterinary inspection Saturday morning in Sardinia,” she said.
“We have no idea right now if animals are alive or dead. Other sources, though, have said the Karim Allah has not asked for animal feed. To me, the way it sailed away from an inspection, the way it is waiting and not asking for food probably means most of the animals are dead”, said Maria.
Removing the Dead Cattles
Manuela Giacomini, a Genoa-based lawyer said that the cattle should be removed from the ship by a hoist which would take more than a day, as per the number of animals present.
Cartagena has suspended livestock ship departure until this ship has been cleared. The ship is anchored at the front of the harbor. Entry to the port depends on the ship owner’s decision.
Problems of Livestock Transport
According to an Animal Law and Policy Professor from Harvard, Kristen Stilt it’s unlikely that a country will accept a rejected labeled livestock ship cargo, as livestock cargo poses potential risks.
Also, the absence of an international arbiter to assess and determine claims of livestock disease on ships is another problem. The result is always catastrophic for animal loss.
Livestock Transport Ban
Dutch MEP Anja Hazekamp is in favor of a live animal transport ban in the EU to counter this.
“Both vessels concerned have EU certificate approvals, which means that they can load European animals and send them to third countries, such as Libya, Lebanon, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia,” she said. “In total there are around 80 vessels with such a certificate.”