Almost 8000 animals were stranded at sea on a ship that left from Spain, Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF), Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) and Animals International (AI) said. Spain is one of the leading exporters of live animals in Europe.
On February 23, the livestock carrier Spiridon II left Tarragona to go to the Port of Aqaba in Jordan. Around 300 young bulls from France and Spain and 7,600 Spanish sheep were on the ship, the animal welfare organizations said.
Spiridon II was built in 1973 and is sailing under the flag of Togo. The ship has many defects but is still allowed to transport animals.
On February 27, the ship had engine problems and spent three days near Greek ports. The animals could not get off the ship because when animals leave the port in Spain, they are declared “export” animals and cannot re-enter the EU.
On March 4, Spiridon II was brought to Eleusis, near Athens. The 8,000 animals were loaded directly from Spiridon II to another livestock carrier Adel I, via a ramp, on the water; they were transported on water because the port of Eleusis is not authorized to transport animals to Jordan.
Adel I was built in 1981 and is sailing under the flag of Jamaica. There are no veterinarians on board on long sea journeys, regardless of the number of animals, the animal welfare organizations said. They added that it was unclear whether the animals were healthy enough – after ten days cramped together on a ship – to continue to Jordan.
“The animals who survived the stressful journey so far arrived in Jordan on March 9, to be slaughtered in the most shocking and cruel conditions which are illegal in the EU,” Gabriel Paun of AI, who has been documenting the treatment of EU-exported animals for years, said.
“The livestock vessels currently operating in the EU were converted from car ferries or cargo ships to livestock carriers,” Maria Boada-Saña, veterinarian and project manager at AWF, said. “They are ancient vessels, operating under suspicious flags, and are poorly designed and maintained.”
This latest event just adds to a long list of problematic live animal exports, the organizations said. And livestock carrier Spiridon II is just one of many old vessels with many deficiencies and unexpected problems arising during the journeys with live animals on board.
Emergencies at sea cannot be solved quickly and result in longer transports, as was seen with the Karim Allah and Elbeik, where Spanish animals spent months at sea, cramped together.
Send meat instead of live animals
There should be a systematic approach to solving the problem instead of makeshift solutions for every single case, the organizations said.
One of the recommendations of the European Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT) was to start shipping meat, carcasses and genetic material instead of living animals to prevent the animals from suffering.
Little has changed for animals after young cows suffered for months at sea on livestock ships Karim Allah and Elbeik.
Animal welfare groups said the EU has failed to make a significant difference in ending the suffering of animals.