On November 30, a group of Members of the European Parliament and animal welfare organisations gathered in front of the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels to raise a voice against live animal transport over long distances. The action comes a month before the European Parliament votes on the final report and recommendations done by the Investigation Committee on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT).
Approximately 40 million sheep, goats, pigs and cattle, and one billion poultry were traded live between European Union (EU) countries in 2018. While, close to 1.6 billion chickens, pigs, sheep and chickens were transported for reproduction, fattening and slaughter to non-EU countries in 2019.
In Europe, there are strict regulations that protect animals during journeys, however, reports of non-compliance and accidents have raised questions about the conditions in which live animals are transported. These irregularities have been exposed by NGOs such as the Animal Welfare Foundation, which was one of the organisations behind the investigation of this year live export crisis in which 2,600 cattle from Spain were destroyed after a failure in the selling of the animals in Libya and Turkey.
During these dangerous journeys, thousands of animals die from suffocation, heat and drowning, said the veterinarian and expert in animal transport of the Animal Welfare Foundation, Maria Boada, who has stressed the topic on several occasions.
Thus, the ANIT committee, chaired by MEP Tilly Metz, was created to investigate the implementation of EU rules by the Member States and their proper application by the European Commission. The Committee has organised different meetings and hearings to exchange views with European institutions, NGOs and the industry.
The transport of animals is a forgotten topic, especially when it touches species such as fish that escape the regulatory frameworks in almost every countries, said MEP Francisco Guerrero during one of the latest meetings of the EP’s Intergroup on Animal Welfare and Conservation.
The action carried out this Tuesday by the members of the EP and different NGOs such as Compassion in World Farming and the Brigitte Bardot Foundation seeks to call on the European Commission and the Member States to improve the conditions in which animals are transported within and outside the European Union.
As part of the action, a truck of Four Paws International drove through Brussels city for 29 hours without stopping to raise awareness of the importance of the issue. The well-known animal welfare organisation also called on MEPs, that are part of the ANIT Committee, to support, during Thursday’s internal voting, the Committee recommendations to guarantee higher animal welfare standards during live transport.
In the past, European animal rights organisations and members of the EP have proposed solutions such as replacing the export of live animals with the export of meat, carcasses and genetic material, which are more sustainable and humane ways. Likewise, they have suggested the introduction of specific times and per-specie-requirements for the commercial movements that also include fish and invertebrates, laboratory animals, equids, cats and dogs and an effective monitoring and enforcement mechanism to promote compliance with the law.
The debate that is taking place in countries like New Zealand has also reached Colombia. Bogotá councilwoman, Andrea Padilla, is currently leading a campaign called #nomáscamionesdelamuerte to raise awareness among society and ask the Colombian government to improve the current regulation of animal transport. “It’s been eight years of delay in the issuance of the national draft law by the Colombian Government, which dictates the guidelines in terms of the welfare of animals transported live by land” said pro-animal welfare councilwoman.
SOS Animals Colombia and its member organisations expect a positive vote from MEPs on the amendments tabled by the ANIT Committee. “We hope that Europe will soon implement better regulations and practices for the millions of animals that suffer inside trucks and vessels. Colombian companies also participate in global livestock transport, especially maritime, so our country has a role to play and must join these initiatives to improve the welfare of animals transported daily”, said Cecilia Angulo, founder of SOS Animals Colombia.