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.

Readers' comments (13)

  • The shipping of live animals for anything other than the purpose of breeding is one the biggest failures of sheep marketing, there is absolutly no need for it.

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  • It is about time meat was exported in refrigerated lorries rather than sending live animals for slaughter.

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  • Why do they need to be exported live in the first place? This is surely not what welfare is about and certainly doesn't look good to the public eye.
    I see the usual washing of hands by DEFRA. All mouth and no trousers.
    Stop causing unnecessary suffering and end the damned export of live animals for slaughter!

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  • The time for change is long overdue, it is not necessary to export live animals. How many times do we hear Defra say they take animal welfare very seriously, if that's the case then stop it happening and such appalling unecessary suffering wont happen again.

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  • Defra spokesperson "We take animal welfare very seriously" Rubbish and lies. How many lorries have Defra inspectors stopped from sailing? How many sick animals have they removed from the lorries? How many drivers have been prosecuted for driving unsafe lorries? Defra has no interest in the welfare of the animals, only in what profit they make for the greedy callous farmers.

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  • All this i am reading about poor animals being transported in this conditions, or being put to stress.... is all making me feel sick, is there anyone in Britain that thinks about how all this thousands of emigrants living in UK are treated? Or the fact that we are being asked to work in bad weather outside with no protection, being paid way under the minimum wage and living in poor houses because we cant afford?
    I don't think anyone care about this, is easier to blame the farmers or other companies for taking care of this poor animals when none of you care or come out in the street to complain about those emigrants that keep this country going, paying taxes and working for hours in a row, with no weekends off or proper clothing...
    Shame on you all those that consider that animals are above humans.
    PS: I am an animal lover and an RSPCA member but this situation made me feel sick, knowing that no one care about what we HUMANS, from poor countries ,come here to make a living to help our hungry families to survive and being asked to work 12 hour days payed only £2/hour, with no suitable clothing being given. I hope all of you can sleep happy in your worm beds knowing that someone pure work twice harder to keep you guys going :(

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  • Anonymous | 25 September 2012 10:11 am

    Don't be a member of the RSPCA - their head office is a hive of animal rights fanatics these days and animals are put far above humans.

    Having said that I also hate live animal exports, including long journeys even in UK.
    It should not be necessary, but became so with the closure of small, local slaughterhouses due to over the top regulations.

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  • The person talking about being an immigrant.. please go back to wherever it is you came from... why are you here? If life is so terrible for you? The rubbish you talk must mean life is so much better for you in your homeland.. go back.... please! Animals should have the same rights as humans.. respect, compassion, empathy... people like you really are a bore. And for the other twit slagging off the RSPCA.. they are an animal charity.. GET IT?????

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  • Is clear to me that you haven't understood a word i said, and clearly you haven't read my post properly, where i have explained all clearly why we are here as emigrants, if it would have been easier in our own countries we would have been there....
    But from a person that state clearly that animals should be treated same as humans, well i am afraid you stated clearly in your post your opinion about this.
    Nevertheless i will stop supporting RSPC, is clear now what is behind this agency, as they were the one that shot all those poor creatures in stead of re-home them or found a solution.....

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  • Leon,
    As you have sadly discovered there are people in UK [and probably all so called developed countries] who have privileges of such choice not available in poorer places.
    They slag off farmers who feed them, don't give a damn about livestock and make a huge noise about Rights for Animals instead of Welfare for animals.... humans don't count.

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