After around three months sailing the Mediterranean looking for a buyer for the 1,800 cattle on board, the livestock carrier Elbeik has finally been ordered to dock in Spain. The Guardian reports that around 180 of the young bulls are already dead; the remainder are considered to have suffered so much that the most humane thing to do is to euthanase them.
The order to dock in Cartagena comes not long after Spanish authorities slaughtered more than 850 young bulls from the Karim Allah. Like the Elbeik, that ship had also left Spain in mid-December and been refused entry to multiple ports because of fears there was bluetongue onboard.
Why let the animals suffer for months at sea before ordering action to be taken? Is it because both industry and government regulators accept inherent animal cruelty in live export and just wait till public outrage reaches a threshold (think Awassi Express?).
The situation is reminiscent of the 2004 Cormo Express disaster. After this disaster Australia set up MOUs with importing countries to ensure countries couldnt reject the exported animals BUT they werent worth the paper they were written on. In 2012, Ocean Drover had unloading blocked in the Middle East and in the end the sheep were offloaded and brutally slaughtered in Pakistan, a total failure of ESCAS that to this day has not been registered as an ESCAS incident by the Australian Government (22000 sheep.....quite a significant major compliance issue!).
The Guardian reports that: “Campaigners blame the EU for continuing to allow lengthy export journeys for farm animals and failing to manage problems.” Sadly, this is also reminiscent of Australia’s management of the trade.