Intense animal suffering during maritime transport offi­cially confirmed: sanctions required

19 Μαΐου 2020

An official audit by the European Commission confirms that far too little is done to prevent serious animal suffering in long-distance sea transport, particularly in Romania. "This check confirms what we have known for a long time: animal transports by sea that Romania facilitates are unacceptable," said MEP Anja Hazekamp. Last year she called on the European Commission to take action, but it decided to await further investigation. Now that the recently published report calls for an action plan, "the European Commission has no choice but to impose sanctions", according to Hazekamp.

Protest against cruel animal transports in the European Parliament, organized by the Dutch Party for the Animals together with sister parties from different countries.

More than half of the approved livestock vessels in the EU come from Romania, which ships around a million animals to the Middle East every year. That it repeatedly violates European rules was dramatically revealed last summer. Of the 70,000 sheep on board the ship 'Al Shuwaikh', thousands died of heat and thirst during the week-long sea transport that was carried out at temperatures of up to 46 degrees, in violation of EU rules.

Even before the departure of the 'Al Shuwaikh', the Dutch Party for the Animals opposed this 'horror transport' by the controversial transporter KLTT. A year earlier, KLTT was responsible for a transport from Australia, in which more than 2,400 sheep lost their lives on the way. MEP Anja Hazekamp pointed out that the planned transport was in violation of European rules for animal transport and called for a European parliamentary inquiry. In July of last year, she traveled to the Romanian port of Midia, where she found that brute force was also being used to load the sheep. Despite the resistance and various warnings, Romania simply let the ship sail.

A few months later, the ship 'Queen Hind' capsized near the Romanian port of Midia due to overloading; more than 14,000 animals drowned in the disaster. The Party for the Animals demanded that the European Commission take action against Romania to prevent similar shipments in the future. However, the European Commission said it would like to carry out an audit first. Indeed, the recently published report shows that oversight of animal transports in Romania is consistently inadequate and that documentation is lacking. "Government controls on animal welfare are almost completely absent, animals on transport are fully dependent on the choices made by the carriers. There is a clear risk that animals will run into problems along the way", said the European Commission report.

Time for concrete steps
Now that the abuses have been officially confirmed, the Party for the Animals thinks it is time for concrete steps to be taken. "The Commission has previously indicated that this audit would provide it with the information necessary to take further action. In addition, it would examine the European Parliament's request to publish a red list of carriers who have repeatedly committed serious infringements", said Anja Hazekamp in the written questions she posed to the European Commission in response to the report. "We are curious about what actions the Commission will take against Romania and when the red list will be published."

In addition to sanctions against Romania, the Party for the Animals also advocates a thorough revision of the European rules on animal transport and a ban on the transport of live animals to countries outside the European Union. "The control and enforcement of European animal transport rules is seriously inadequate; nothing has come of the regulations that must protect animals during transport. Then you have to prohibit transports", said Hazekamp.