Monday

2nd Oct 2023

Some 200,000 animals trapped in Suez canal likely to die

  • Due to the blockade of the Suez Canal, 200,000 animals are stuck on ships without enough water or food (Photo: Animals International)

The worst maritime animal welfare tragedy in history could, by now, be unavoidable, says Gabrile Păun, the EU director for Animals International, an NGO.

There are 16 ships taking live animals from the EU to the Persian Gulf which have been stuck for several days behind the stranded 'Ever Given' cargo vessel in the Suez Canal.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Even with the Ever Given now slowly moving again, the live animals inside the blistering cargo containers, which are quickly running out of feed and water, are now nearing an even more tragic end than that which awaits them in the slaughterhouses at their destination.

Even if the ships were to resume full course today, the water and food would not last until their sea journey is over.

Romania is the source for the 130,000 of the 200,000 live animals now caught in the Suez bottleneck.

Some six of the 11 ships full to the brim with the live animals from the South-Eastern European nation are in a particularly critical situation. They were supposed to reach harbours in the Persian Gulf over four days ago, but still have not left the Canal.

According to EU law, ships carrying live animals need to load 25 percent more food than planned for their trip in case of delays, but animal welfare organisations warned that this rarely happens.

Meanwhile, Păun explained to EUobserver that even with the 25 percent buffer, these ships would now run out of animal feed long before they arrive in port.

"A ship that left Romania on 16 March was scheduled to arrive in Jordan on 23 March, but instead it would now reach port on 1 April at the earliest. That is a nine-day delay. Even if the ship had the required 25 percent additional animal feed, it would only have lasted for 1.5 days", he said.

The 'ANSVSA', the Romanian authority in charge of live-animal exports issued a press release two days ago saying that after reaching out to those in charge on board the ships, there is enough food and water to last a few days.

The press release added that live animal exports have been currently suspended until the situation in the Suez is dealt with.

But for Păun, those responsible for the shipment would never admit that animals are dying by the thousands on their vessels.

Meanwhile, the EU legislation does not compel an EU member state to report on animal mortality on board these ships and Romania would never release that information voluntarily because authorities know that it would lead to investigations, he added.

Romania is one of Europe's largest live-sheep exporters and has several times been singled out by the European Commission for its bad practices regarding live-animal exports.

Last year, Romania was red-flagged by Brussels for failing to meet live-animal transport conditions after more than 14,000 sheep drowned when a cargo vessel capsized off the Black Sea coast.

A year earlier, the then EU commissioner for food safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, urged Romania - to no avail - to stop the export of 70,000 live sheep to the Persian Gulf because temperatures inside the cargo vessel exceed 60 degrees Celsius.

Instead, Romanian authorities increased their live-animal exports, despite an investigation that showed animals exported to Gulf countries dying from the high temperatures, being unloaded violently off ships, squeezed into car trunks, and slaughtered by unskilled butchers.

Păun says the only chance now for some of the animals to make it to destination alive is for Egyptian authorities to move quickly and clear the ships trapped in the Suez.

"I am appalled that legislation did not offer Romania the power to command cargo ships to return back home. Romania should have used diplomatic pressure to resolve the issue," he said.

"According to a ruling by the European Court of Justice, the EU member state exporting live animals to a third party country is responsible for their wellbeing until reaching destination", he added.

For Păun, Romania should move toward exporting meat rather than live animals.

"It would cancel the unnecessary suffering of the animals and would be more economically profitable for Romania", he said.

But even though other countries have agreed that exporting processed and refrigerated meat is far more profitable and less cruel, live animal exports remain unabated from Romania.

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.

Romania blasted over animal export conditions

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.

Opinion

Time for an EU commissioner for animal welfare

Including the competence for animal welfare explicitly in the job title of the relevant commissioner would respond the demands of the vast majority of EU citizens.

Opinion

Long-distance animal transport: unthinkable still happening

A complete overhaul of animal products' supply chains is needed, privileging local food chains including local slaughtering which is proven to benefit the environment, the resilience of our economy, food safety and animal welfare.

Opinion

Punish Belarus too for aiding Putin's Ukraine war

While Belarus has not sent its own troops to fight Russia's war in Ukraine, the Minsk dictatorship has been heavily involved. As a result, Belarus must be punished for its involvement — what can the world do to sanction Belarus?

Latest News

  1. EU ministers go to Kyiv to downplay fears on US, Slovak aid
  2. Hoekstra faces tough questioning to be EU Green chief
  3. Frontex shared personal data of NGO staff with Europol six times
  4. Why EU Commission dumped Google's favourite consultant
  5. Slovak's 'illiberal' Fico victory boosts Orbán, but faces checks
  6. European Political Community and key media vote This WEEK
  7. Is the ECB sabotaging Europe's Green Deal?
  8. The realists vs idealists Brussels battle on Ukraine's EU accession

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  2. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators, industry & healthcare experts at the 24th IMDRF session, September 25-26, Berlin. Register by 20 Sept to join in person or online.
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  5. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators & industry experts at the 24th IMDRF session- Berlin September 25-26. Register early for discounted hotel rates
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations
  2. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  3. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  4. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us