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All News Updates & Public Comment => Live Export News Updates => : WA Export News March 07, 2012, 05:09:56 PM

: PETA calls for Egypt to rescue stranded cattle in Red Sea 7.3.2012
: WA Export News March 07, 2012, 05:09:56 PM
 CAIRO: The international animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has issued a statement following a report on the stranded vessel carrying thousands of cattle in Egypt’s Red Sea, demanding that Cairo immediately allow the ship to dock in Egypt before more animals are left to die.

“An engine failure reportedly caused the ventilation and feeding systems to shut down just three days into their journey, leaving animals to starve, suffer, and die in the extreme heat,” PETA said in its letter aimed at the Egyptian government.

Already, some 2,700 cattle die on board a live export ship from Brazil to dock in the country. The Egyptian government has refused to allow the ship to dock, despite the final destination for the vessel is Egypt, where the animals are to be slaughtered.

Animals Australia, the leading organization reporting on the controversial live export trade to the Middle East and Southeast Asia, said the current incident is among the worst the industry has witnessed in years.

Animals Australia’s Campaign Director, Lyn White, said in a statement to that the ship is anchored at sea after being refused port in a number of countries, including Egypt, where the cattle were supposed to be offloaded.

“Animals Australia has been working overnight with international colleague groups to find refuge for the surviving 2,000 cattle after Egyptian authorities refused to allow the animals to be unloaded.”

It’s understood that ventilation problems on the recently converted livestock vessel, the MV Gracia Del Mar, has caused the deaths of more than half of the animals on board since the ship left South America for Egypt a few weeks ago. The ship has been anchored in the Red Sea for over a week.

“This is nothing short of an animal welfare disaster. If remaining cattle are not offloaded more of these animals will suffer appalling deaths at sea. We are appealing to authorities in Egypt to offload the remaining cattle at al-Sohkna, as was originally intended.

“This disaster is just another example of the inherent risks of transporting animals by sea. It was only nine years ago that 5,000 Australian sheep perished on board the MV Cormo Express after country after country refused to allow it to berth.

“And this isn’t the first time that mechanical issues have caused mass deaths on live export ships. We only need to look to the breakdown of the Al Messilah in Adelaide last year. Had that vessel broken down on the open ocean it would have caused a similar welfare catastrophe — as thousands of animals would have died.

“Australia also exports cattle to Al Sohkna Livestock company in Egypt. Whilst we have an MoU with Egypt which should ensure the offloading of our animals, it has never been put to the test. The Egyptians thus far have flatly refused to allow the MV Gracia Del Mar to dock despite the mass suffering of the animals on board.

“If they continue to refuse to allow the surviving animals to be unloaded it would provide little confidence that the non-binding agreement with Australia would be honoured if a similar incident were to occur on an Australian livestock ship.

“It should not matter if these cattle aren’t Australian and if Brazil doesn’t have a similar piece of paper, they should not be abandoned to suffer and die at sea. We are appealing to Egyptian authorities to offload these cattle as a matter of urgency.”

Australia’s live sheep exports have fallen significantly over the past decade.

In 2010, three million sheep were exported compared with 6.3 million in 2001.

Australia’s government last year was to see a bill that would have banned live export to the world, but industry lobbyists fought back and forced the legislation off the table in a move that angered animal activists in the country and across the world, notably the Islamic world, which receives the lion’s share of live cattle and sheep from both Australia and Brazil.

Joseph Mayton | 7 March 2012