Less than three weeks after nearly a thousand head of cattle were begun to be culled in Spain after being adrift on a cargo vessel – the governmment has ordered the slaughter of another 1,610 cattle that have been stranded aboard the Elbeik livestock ship since December.
The two cargo vessels that have been transporting the cows, who were suspected of suffering from a viral disease.
The first arrived at a Spanish port, weeks after being adrift in the Mediterranean Sea.
This ship is one of the two that was rejected by different ports in several countries due to an outbreak of bluetongue disease on board. The other vessel is still anchored off the coast.
“We were suspicious that the vessel Karim Allah left Italian territorial waters to avoid an inspection that was planned by the Italian veterinarian authorities,” said Maria Boada, a vet and project manager at the Animal Welfare Foundation. “We heard they already had hundreds of dead animals on the vessel. It is possible that Khalifeh Livestock Trd, the owner of the vessel, finally gave in and ordered their return to Spain to offload the dead animals. With so much public attention, they cannot dump all these animals into the Mediterranean Sea.”
As per Boada, the boat has been anchored in the port of Cartagena with animals on board. “It is a scandal that Spain has yet not taken action to end the suffering of these animals who have been fighting for their lives on this vessel for two months.”
The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food mentioned the government was aware of the situation and concerned about it. They also confirmed that the animals on board the Karim Allah left the Cartagena port healthy and after completing proper checks.
The port’s cattle exporting activities are at a standstill until the vessel is inspected by the ministry officials. Also, ships were part of a deal that did not go through to sell the cattle in Turkey, and that they then tried unsuccessfully to sell them in Libya.
The other vessel, the Elbeik, with 1,776 animals onboard, is still anchored in Turkish waters off the coast of Cyprus after it was rejected by other ports.
Reportedly, the situation is further evidence of the importance of banning the export of live animals. It confirmed that the current norms pertaining to the transportation of animals in the European Union, which establishes animal welfare rules during transit, suffer from few controls or contingency plans.