Thursday

9th Feb 2023

Romania blasted over animal export conditions

  • Some of the failings noted are bad transport planning, with animals "having to endure temperatures exceeding 35 degrees celsius" (Photo: Eurogroup for Animals)

Romania, EU's largest exporter of live farm animals to third-countries, gets singled out in the latest European Commission report for bad practices - following the drowning of more than 14,000 sheep last November, after a cargo vessel carrying local livestock to the Saudi port of Jeddah cap sized off the Black Sea coast.

The report identifies breaches of welfare regulation for animals transported by sea to countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

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  • Last November, more than 14,000 sheep drowned after a cargo vessel carrying local livestock to the Saudi port of Jeddah cap sized off the Black Sea coast (Photo: Animals International)

Some of the failings noted are bad transport planning with animals "having to endure temperatures exceeding 35 degrees celsius" and the lack of information on the condition of animals during transport and on arrival.

The report, collecting data from the main exit ports in Romania, Ireland, Spain, Croatia, France, Portugal and Slovenia where the vast majority of animals come from, talks about the lack of proper documentation with port veterinarians pressured into approving the transport, unfit sick and injured animals ship-loaded for the several days' journey at sea and faulty cargo ships unsuitable for carrying livestock.

According to an animal welfare organisation, 54 percent of all EU-approves vessels for the sea transport of livestock are of very high safety risk, licensed in black-listed countries.

The European Commission points to signs of improvement in Spain and Ireland before red-flagging Romania for failing to check transport conditions onboard cargo vessels.

This report comes just days after another audit from the European Commission showed that cargo ships registered in Romania and used for live exports are hazardous to animal welfare.

ANSVSA the Romania authority concerned with monitoring animal welfare during transport did not offer comment.

Last summer, Romania locked horns again with Brussels when the former EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, urged, to no avail, the Romanian agriculture minister to stop the export of 70,000 live sheep to the Persian Gulf.

The EU official said the extreme temperatures would make it impossible to guarantee that animals would not suffer in transit.

The row between Bucharest and Brussels comes as the EU wants stricter controls on live exports.

Romania has been doubling down on its exports of live sheep, as Australia, the world's top export is enforcing a ban on live trade to the Middle East during the summer months.

"Animals are crammed and cooked alive inside the cargo ships during the hot weather, with temperatures inside exceeding 60 degrees celsius. And it takes anywhere from one to three weeks for the livestock to reach destination", Animals International European Director, Gabriel Paun, told EUobserver.

An investigation carried out by Animals International into the exports of sheep and cattle that go from Romania to Jordan, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip showed animals dying from the high temperatures, unloaded violently off ships, squeezed in car trunks and slaughtered by unskilled butchers in the middle of the street.

The Romanian meat industry is split between those who believe live trade benefits the economy as they need to sell the animals in order to keep the business afloat and those who say that the animals should be kept and processed in the country.

Farmers lacking local meat processing facilities say that they are losing money having to ship their livestock overseas.

Despite live trade remaining unabated, some authorities agree that exporting processed and refrigerated meat would be more beneficial, bring economic advantages and higher returns.

Author bio

Cristian Gherasim is a freelance journalist contributing to EUobserver, Euronews, EU Reporter, Katoikos, Von Mises Institute, and bne IntelliNews, with a particular focus on European and regional affairs.

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