More than 15,000 sheep drowned on Sunday in the Sudanese port of Suakin in the Red Sea after the ship carrying them sank. This accident highlights the shortcomings of a sector with very little transparency, that of the maritime transport of live animals.
The sheep were loaded onto the Tanzania-registered Al Badri vessel, built in 1973, and converted to live animal transport. The ship was largely overloaded, with nearly 16,000 sheep on board for an official capacity of 9,000. This new incident reveals the dark side of a huge industry.
In fact, for Europe alone, almost three million sheep and cattle are loaded alive each year on ships, which depart primarily from Romania and Spain to Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Libya, Turkey or even Saudi Arabia. In total, almost 45 million sheep, cows and pigs are transported alive from Europe, by road or sea.
European Parliament report
Since the sinking of the Queen Hind at the end of 2019 in a Romanian port with more than 15,000 sheep on board, the European Parliament has commissioned a report.
This report, published last year, denounced the lack of regulation and control in this sector.
Starting with the ships used to transport these animals. Of the 78 vessels authorized by the European Union for the transport of live animals, only 5 are in fact vessels designed for this purpose, i.e. with aeration systems, water desalination and compartmentalized.
The others are converted cargo ships, in which we simply placed holds. More than two-thirds of authorized vessels sail under a blacklisted flag. The average age of these vessels is 41 years.
This parliamentary report denounces numerous shortcomings in terms of respect for animal welfare, hygiene and safety in particular.
This means that some of these animals have to travel for days or weeks, sometimes on their manure, in temperatures over 30 degrees. Some die asphyxiated by the smell of ammonia, crushed by others or drowned because the boat carrying them was overloaded.