Ireland Acts on Live Export Breach

Credit: Ethical Farming Ireland
Credit: Ethical Farming Ireland

Published Feb 17, 2020 6:37 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Guardian and Ethical Farming Ireland have been instrumental in the Irish government's move to revoke approvals for a live exporter operating two vessels, the Atlantic M and the Express 1.

Irish regulations stipulate that companies operating livestock vessels must not be listed as low or very low on the Port State Control performance tables published by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). However, the Turkish vessel operator did not meet this criteria as a result of ship detentions, including a detention for the Atlantic M

Until The Guardian and Ethical Farming Ireland broke the news, it appears that Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) was unaware that the performance ratings for the ships’ operator were below the required standard.

The Guardian reports the operator was surprised by the government move as the vessels had loaded from Ireland many times after DAFM inspections.

Ethical Farming Ireland notes the fate of a third vessel that has now been re-granted approval to operate. At the time it's approval was revoked, the Sarah M was operated by the Beirut Shipping Company. The animal welfare organization says in a Facebook post: “Thanks to the great investigatory work by a group member it came to light that all three livestock vessels used by Irish exporters were in fact in breach of Regulations and had their approvals revoked after I informed the Dept of this. However, despite my notification the shipment to Libya in December in the Sarah M was allowed to proceed. 

“Also the Sarah M suddenly got a new owner and operator in January and has since been granted a new approval. The address of the new owner is exactly the same as the previous one, and the new operator is DMS Lines which just so happens to be painted on the side of the Sarah M and has been for at least two years. I wonder how long it will be before the other two vessels get 'new' operators...”

Ethical Farming Ireland has raised animal welfare concerns about the live cattle export industry to Europe including:

• Calves are left without food or accessible water for in excess of 24 hours and can lose a great deal of body weight during the journey. The ferry journey alone is around 19 hours and they cannot be fed without being unloaded.
• The animals end up knee deep in manure which can lead to slippage and injury.
• They cannot regulate their own body temperature efficiently and have underdeveloped immune systems leaving them susceptible to illnesses like pneumonia.
• The veal farms they are sent to can keep them in inhumane conditions with barren stalls too narrow for them to turn around in and bare, slatted flooring.
• The majority of calves are sent to Spain where they can end up exported on to Libya, Lebanon and Turkey. 
• The animal welfare legislation in some receiving countries is minimal and not enforced.
• Investigations have shown inhumane methods of slaughter are used including slashing tendons, stabbing in the eyes, being strung up by a rear leg, multiple slashes at the throat.