Brexit Could Stop Live Export
The U.K.’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is calling on the Government to keep animal welfare in mind when they negotiate the Brexit, as the issue of live exports is debated in the House of Commons this month.
So far this year 58 lorries, in 12 separate sailings, have left the port of Ramsgate in Kent on a former tank carrier to head to Europe. RSPCA says the animals can be driven for hours before being slaughtered, many without being stunned first.
Whilst the trade is still legal as the U.K. is still a member of the European Union until 2019, Brexit gives a real opportunity for the Government to give port owners the flexibility to decide whether to allow this trade or not, says the RSPCA.
Spokesman David Bowles said: “We know that port owners such as Thanet Council, and their constituents don't want the trade, but they're forced to allow it under E.U. rules. Brexit gives them the opportunity to choose and we hope MPs and the Government will recognize this.
“The Government has repeatedly said they want the best animal welfare standards, and the E.U. has stood in their way - now's their biggest opportunity to choose welfare over trade.
“Our campaign to keep animals in this country and to only export carcases has been hugely successful, with exports down from nearly two million twenty years ago to tens of thousands now. However every one of those sheep has to endure stressful journeys in a trade that the public deplore, ports don't want and even the Government would rather didn’t happen.”
So far over 75,000 people have signed the RSPCA’s open letter and petition to farming minister George Eustice urging him to speak out for farm animals.
The port of Ramsgate is the main ferry port that facilitates the live export trade from the U.K., yet it lacks appropriate facilities, says the RSPCA. The boat used to cross the channel is unsuitable, as it was originally built as a tank carrier for use on rivers.
The RSPCA believes it is best for everyone, including farmers, the public and the animals, if all in the food and farming industries could work together to ensure that commercially viable options are available for farmers so that all U.K. born farm animals can be reared and slaughtered in the country.
Each year tens of thousands of live farm animals are shipped overseas from U.K. shores to the continent. Loaded onto crowded trucks, their journey can take days as they travel as far as Spain and Greece only to be slaughtered at their destination. Many animals, such as calves and sheep, suffer stress and exhaustion, hunger, thirst and rough handling - some die in transit.