A new report released by Animal Welfare Foundation and Robin des Bois highlights the poor condition of livestock carriers operating in Europe.
The average age of the 78 EU-approved vessels is 41 years with 16 being 50+ years old. Only five were purpose-built for livestock. The average age at the time of conversion for the remaining 67 ships was 29 years, an age when most ships involved in other commercial trades are scrapped.
Age is a key risk factor for ship safety, and 28 of the ships have reportedly suffered major incidents including engine failure, fire and loss of stability.
In the past two years (or in the last 2 years of their trading life), 2,504 deficiencies were reported by port authorities. Two thirds of the 78 had deficiencies relating to Certificates and Documentation, Safety of Navigation, Fire Safety, Maritime Labour Convention, Life-saving Equipment, Working-Living Conditions or Pollution Prevention.
More than half had deficiencies related to Water/Weathertight Conditions, Propulsion and Auxiliary Machinery, Emergency Systems, Radio Communications, Structural Conditions and Ship Management.
It is telling that 55% of these ships sail under flags from risk and high-risk countries, according to the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control.
Live export is always tragic for the animals involved and where animal welfare issues exist, so do human issues - these crews also risk tragedy.