Party for the Animals presses European Commission: ban live animal export now!
Last week, MEP Anja Hazekamp of the Dutch Party for the Animals travelled to Spain to monitor what happened to thousands of calves stranded and being killed in the harbour of Cartagena after spending over three months at sea in horrific circumstances. As vice-chair of the European Commission of Inquiry on animal transport, she reprimanded Romanian authorities for denying abuse despite clear evidence. And meanwhile another tragedy involving thousands of animals developed in the Suez canal. “We will keep pressing for a total ban on live animal transport. This should not be allowed to ever happen again,” Hazekamp states.
Millions of farm animals such as calves and sheep are shipped alive on long-distance transports every single year, within and outside the EU. Gruesome incidents during marine animal transport have repeatedly shocked the world in recent years. Ships wandering at sea for months on end, packed with bulls without enough feed, water, care or even space to lie down, wounded and wading in their own faeces; thousands of sheep dying from thirst, overheating or exhaustion on their way from Europe to the Middle East for weeks on end; capsizing vessels due to overloading, resulting in the drowning of thousands of animals: there are only too many examples.
Even without such ‘incidents’, the marine transport of living animals involves severe structural animal abuse, parties for the animals and animal welfare organizations stress. Regulations and maintenance are utterly insufficient, as official audits and undercover footage have shown. Anja Hazekamp, member of European Parliament of the Dutch Party for the Animals, has therefore consistently campaigned for a total ban on long distance transport of living animals, travelling to European ports to show infringements of European regulations and pressing the European Parliament and Commission to take sanctions against countries that violate the rules on a structural basis, such as Romania.
Time to act
Although the European Parliament has already agreed to shorten transport times and ban live animal transport to non-EU countries when EU animal welfare standards cannot be guaranteed, the European Commission has failed to take action, and repeatedly stated to await further investigation. Last year, a majority of the European Parliament voted in favour of the Dutch Party for the Animals’ request to establish an inquiry committee - the first European parliamentary inquiry in history on animal welfare.
To investigate serious abuses during animal transports, the commission questions people involved in the entire animal transport network, including officials and representatives of member states. “This is an important step towards a Europe where such transports will never be conducted again”, according to Hazekamp. “There is overwhelming evidence that these transports are nothing short of animal hell and that 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. The animals have waited and suffered long enough, it is time to act!”