Thousands of cattle remain stranded at sea on two livestock ships that left Spain on 18 December. The two vessels, Elbeik and Karim Allah, were bound for Libya. But following an onboard outbreak of the viral disease bluetongue, they’ve both been refused entry at multiple ports.
Marine traffic websites indicate Elbeik departed Spain with about 1,700 cattle on board and the Karim Allah almost 900. To date, they’ve been at sea for nine weeks.
SAFE Campaigns Manager Bianka Atlas said the crisis raises questions about the contingencies New Zealand has in place for delayed live export ships.
“Under current rules, New Zealand is not prepared if a ship carrying New Zealand animals is stranded at sea,” said Atlas.
“This crisis in Europe is reminiscent of the Cormo Express disaster in 2003 where 6,000 New Zealand and Australian sheep died onboard when the ship was refused entry to a port for two months.”
New rules introduced following the capsize of the Gulf Livestock 1 require at least 20 per cent of feed is available for unplanned delays during the voyage. For a typical voyage to China of 16 days, this would mean the ship needs three to four days’ worth of extra feed.
“These new rules are tinkering around the edges. Even a week’s delay could mean thousands of starving animals.”
“While this latest live export disaster is unfolding, we’re still waiting on Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s live export review. It’s been nearly two years, and it’s time to pick up the pace and end live export.”