4 th September 2002
David Fickling (Report, 4 th September) is correct to highlight concerns
over the export of live sheep from Australia . He mentions the M/V Cormo
Express and voyage in 1990 during which 10,000 sheep died. I was the
Chief Radio Officer on that particular voyage, and I can assure your
readers that the carnage was far worse than the statistics revealed.
The actual number dead was in excess of 12,000 from a cargo of 71,000,
or almost 17%. On its previous voyage, it lost 7,000 out of 63,000, or
11%. The radio department was responsible for keeping such statistics.
The problems began with poor weather in the Tasmanian Sea . Many sheep
developed gastro-enteritis, and refused to eat, thus slowly starving
themselves to death. Initially, the sheep were killed with the numane
livestock killer to prevent further suffering. However, the ship carried
only 500 rounds, and when these were exhausted, ships officers and crew
took turns in cutting the animals throats.
Conditions on the livestock decks were truly atrocious. Faulty air-conditioning
meant that manure set rock solid immediately in to 140 o temperatures,
quickly reaching the animal's bellies and preventing them from moving
or reaching water or fodder troughs. Again, all officers and crew were
involved in shovelling manure, but 44 men could do little to alleviate
the animals suffering given the scale of the problem.
Over 4,000 sheep died whilst customs formalities were completed in Jeddah.
The carcasses were piled on the sheep decks for disposal after sailing.
After 6 days in such temperatures, the stench was truly appalling, and
the vessel's crew were forced to throw carcasses overboard in the Red
Sea as the 'hogger', a devise which pulped the carcasses and sprayed
them overboard, became clogged.
Throughout the voyage, the ship's officers & crew, and the two NZ
MAFF vets who accompanied the sheep, did their best to prevent needless
suffering. In the absence of proper regulation, and with the regular
falsification of death figures by ship owners and agents, ensuring animal
welfare is a task left to crews, who have no training and little experience
of live cargos. Despite their best efforts, they continue to find themselves
overwhelmed by the scale of the task. It is time for more humane regulations,
without a doubt.
Economic Affairs Spokesman
U.K. Independence Party
(& former Chief Radio Officer, M/V Cormo Express)
download .pdf version
return to top of page