About 900 cows with suspected foot-and-mouth disease, which have been on the Karim Allah ship in the Mediterranean Sea for more than two and a half months, will be slaughtered, the Supreme Court of Spain has decided. He refused to suspend a slaughter order issued by the Ministry of Agriculture. Other countries refused to accept units with cattle. The second cattle vessel, the Elbeik, is still in the Mediterranean Sea headed for Greece.
All animals are to be disembarked from the ship in the port of Cartagena and slaughtered there, according to an order from Spain’s agriculture ministry. The authorities referred to the EU directive and national legislation on animal welfare and health. Their decision was confirmed by the Spanish Supreme Court.
Exhausted from a long journey and sea conditions. More than 50 animals have already died
Karim Allah returned to the port of Cartagena a week ago after Turkish authorities did not allow the animals to be landed in that port due to suspicion of foot-and-mouth disease. In mid-January, there was no transaction with Libya, which also refused to allow the ship to enter.
The second cattle vessel, the Elbeik, with almost 1,800 cows, which left Tarragona in December 2020, is still in the Mediterranean Sea headed for Greece. According to the non-governmental organization Animal Welfare Foundation, which is quoted by the daily “El Mundo”, more than 50 animals have died on the ship so far. Elbeik is overloaded and the cows are exhausted from the long journey and sea conditions.
Cattle viral disease
Foot-and-mouth disease is a viral disease of cattle and is generally not transmitted to humans. Due to the long incubation period, symptoms may not be visible until 60-80 days after infection of the animal, so they may not be visible when the cows are loaded. The Spanish producer association Asoprovac and the authorities in Madrid ensured that the cattle left the ports of Cartagena and Tarragona in December healthy and properly certified.
In the town of Huesca in northeastern Spain, where some of the cows come from, an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease was recorded even before the ships departed. In accordance with the regulations, in such a case it must be certified that the exported cattle come from a place at least 150 km away from the outbreak. According to the Turkish authorities, such a guarantee was not provided in the veterinary documents.
“The Spanish government was not very transparent, there are many things to be clarified.”
The animals were taken care of by a transport company that wanted to sell them to another country. Her lawyers tried to avoid the cows being slaughtered and accused the Spanish authorities of blocking an attempt to prove that the animals were healthy. The veterinary inspection carried out at the end of February, after more than two months of transporting the cattle, ruled out the possibility of its further sea journey. However, the inspectors did not carry out any tests to see if the cows actually had foot-and-mouth disease.
“The Spanish government was not very transparent, there are many issues to be clarified,” said the company’s lawyers. The authorities referred to EU legislation according to which animals suspected of having an infectious disease should be killed.
“We expect this scandal to end the trade and export of live animals to countries outside the European Union,” said Animal Welfare Foundation director Silvia Barquero.
Main photo source: Reuters