Live sheep exports resume from Ipswich
A FERRY carrying a cargo of live sheep left the port of Ipswich on Friday night, following the recent suspension of live exports from Ramsgate, according to the RSPCA.
The animal welfare charity said the ferry carrying the sheep, MV Joline, left Ipswich on Friday night and arrived in Calais on Saturday afternoon.
Live exports from Ramsgate, in Kent, were suspended by Thanet Council on September 13, following an incident that resulted in 43 sheep having to be put down. Vets examining the sheep on board a lorry at the port found that one had a broken leg, one was too sick to travel and 41 were severely lame. The RSPCA found that none of the animals could reach the drinkers in the vehicle.
A further two sheep drowned in a separate incident.
The RSPCA welcomed the ‘common sense’ move to suspend live exports from Ramsgate but has condemned the move to temporarily transfer the trade to Ipswich, which it said amounted to ‘sneaking the vile trade back in through the back door’.
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant warned port officials that they had a ‘duty of care’ to the animals that were converging on the port.
“I, like my colleagues, and all those who fight for the animals, breathed a sigh of relief last week when we heard there had been a suspension of this awful trade at Ramsgate,” he said.
“But now we feel somewhat cheated and bitterly disappointed that this vile trade has just been shifted through the back-door and is trying to carry on at a different port.”
The charity said the MV Joline was ‘a flat-bottomed boat designed to carry tanks across rivers, and can be unstable when she encounters rough weather’.
It said that, since March 2012 when RSPCA inspectors started inspecting lorries arriving at Ramsgate, there have been five warning notices issued to hauliers for issues such as broken water feeders and fans, and keeping horned and non-horned sheep together.
Ipswich Borough Council said it does not have any statutory duties or powers affecting the live export of animals. It said it does not own the port, while inspections are carried out by Defra.
“Therefore, there are no fees or charges that Ipswich Borough Council has the power to levy which could affect the export of live animals from Ipswich Port,” the council said.
A Defra spokesperson said: “We take animal welfare very seriously and ideally would rather see livestock slaughtered as close as possible to where they are farmed.
“However, when animals are transported there are stringent rules including on fitness to travel, space allowances, ventilation and access to water and feed. These are strictly monitored and we will take swift action if they are not followed.”
NFU chief livestock adviser Peter Garbutt said the union understood live export trade from Ipswich would be carried out under ‘close supervision from the relevant competent authorities’.
He said moving live animals throughout Europe was a ‘legitimate and lawful activity subject to comprehensive legislative controls’ and that the NFU has called for the current controls to be rigorously enforced across the EU.
“Most farm animals are transported at some stage during their lives for breeding purposes or for further rearing. The key issue is that these animals are transported under the right conditions in order that they arrive at their destination fit and healthy.
“Journeys over eight hours or between EU member states make up a very small but important minority of all movements and these take place using specially designed vehicles,” he said.