MADRID – “Spain has a responsibility to ensure the welfare of its animals and compliance with European standards.” Animal rights organisation Igualdad Animal spoke last Tuesday regarding live animal exports.
The animal rights organisation held a rally in front of Luis Planas’ Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Madrid. They demand that trade in, and export of, live animals outside the EU is stopped. This is based on the recent incident of the two ships Karim Allah and Elbeik.
More than 2500 cows killed
After three months of floating at sea, all the cows on board the ship Elbeik had to be slaughtered once back in Spain. This ended the suffering of the nearly 1,800 animals who were so badly off veterinarians could no longer offer any other solution. There were still 1,610 starving cows on the ship destined for Turkey. Nearly 180 cattle had previously died and been thrown overboard.
In Turkey, the animals could not disembark due to an alleged virus. Subsequent attempts in Libya and Egypt to offload the animals failed, after which the ship set course again for Spain. Also on the ‘Karim Allah’ are hundreds of bulls that had to be culled for the same reason.
1 million animals left Spanish ports in 2019
Igualdad Animal points out that while countries such as the UK, the Netherlands or Germany no longer allow this type of travel, live animal exports from Spain to the Middle East and North Africa continues to grow. In 2019, around a million animals left Spanish ports.
Spain jumps into a commercial niche
Saudi Arabia refused to accept Australia’s animal welfare guarantee system. However, since Australia stopped exporting animals to Saudi Arabia, Spain and Romania filled this commercial niche. Cargo ships, capable of transporting up to 35,000 animals, are currently seeking a license from Australia to operate from Spain.
Organisation demands information from ministry
Spain knew several days before their arrival in Turkey that the animals on the Karim Allah and Elbeik would be rejected. Despite this, the Spanish authorities took no action and did not notify the ships. Nor did they inform the European Commission. Italy reported the situation on February 18. The ships had already been adrift in the Mediterranean for two months.
The animal rights organisation demands information from the ministry about both ships. “Spain has a responsibility to ensure the welfare of its animals and compliance with European standards. The government must stop being complicit in the suffering of these animals. It is neither acceptable nor sustainable, and it makes us the drain of animal cruelty in Europe,” said Silvia Barquero, director of Igualdad Animal in Spain.
Studies and reports from the European Commission confirm the application of European legislation on the protection of animals during transport is completely inadequate in Spain. Something of which the events with the ships Karim Allah and Elbeik are sad proof.