This week’s guest writer Maddie Miller discusses live animal exports, involving a complex series of movements and operations which, coupled with the current regulation, has created a welfare risk to the animals.
The export of live animals from the United Kingdom has increased over time, sparking debate and controversy over its regulation. Animals are put in inhumane and cruel circumstances only to reach their destination for slaughter or for fattening.
What are the main problems with the export of animals?
Most EU countries do not receive any feedback from the country of destination about the condition of the animals on arrival. Nor do they get any information ‘from the transporter, ship’s master or vessel operator’. There is further uncertainty regarding who is legally responsible for the proper care of livestock at different points on their journey – particularly in ports or during sea journeys.
How are the animals legally protected currently?
The European position is regulated by the Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport. Some of the main points of the regulation are as follows:
Farmers have a legal responsibility to ensure their animals are transported safely and in a way that will not cause unnecessary suffering under the EU legislation.
The report on the UK Live Export of Animals can be viewed here which details both the EU and UK regulation.
The UK is bound by the above EU law, which is currently set to remain in force post Brexit.
The UK position is also regulated by the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 with parallel legislation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is an offence to transport any animal in a way that will likely cause injury or undue suffering. DEFRA commented on the regulations, stating that ‘the rules do not allow unfit animals to travel and sets a minimum age of travel for different animals. Different rules apply to journeys under and over 65km, and those under and over 8 hours.’
Local councils are primarily responsible for the enforcement of transport regulations, including welfare checks on the animals and the suitability of the means of transport. The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), a government body, carries out enforcement checks at borders and markets. Offences can attract fines of up to £5000 and/or 6 months imprisonment.
Current legal case: Scotland and Live Animal Exports
Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) has raised a case against the actions of APHA to ban the live export of animals from Scotland. They have claimed that young calves, transported from as young as 2 weeks old, are suffering immensely with more than 12,000 being exported to Spain in 2017.
It has been suggested that on the journeys these young calves are not getting access to the water and feed that is legally required for them. This contravenes the European regulations. CIWF has stated ‘the Scottish Government is acting unlawfully in permitting the exports of unweaned calves on journeys over 8 hours’ (Peter Stevenson, CIWF). The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe has stated that animals should be reared as close as possible to the premises on which they are born and slaughtered as close as possible to the point of production.
CIWF has asked for a judicial review to be carried out in the Court of Session against APHA to help the fight against live animal exports.
If you have any questions on the services we offer at Advocates for Animals, please contact Vanessa on email@example.com
We are grateful to everyone who contributes to the Advocates for Animals blog. Blogs should not be taken as legal advice nor do they necessarily reflect the views of the firmGo Back