Egypt turns away ship of stranded cattle

Mar 9, 2012

Two thousand seven hundred cattle are reported to have died on board a Brazilian live export ship in what Animals Australia says is one of the worst shipboard disasters the live export industry has seen in many years.

Animals Australia’s campaign director, Lyn White, said 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 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, 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.

Considered an animal welfare disaster, with the concern about the remaining cattle dying at sea, a plea has been sent 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,” Animals Australia said.

“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,” the group said.

Animal activists have seized upon the unfolding animal welfare crisis on the Brazilian-owned vessel in the Red Sea to increase calls for a trade ban. The crisis has also added a boost to their activities, including ramping up anti-live export campaigns and illegally boarding livestock vessels, including one in Fremantle, to obtain footage of animals on board.

Police arrested an 18-yearold woman who had chained herself to the rail of Wellard Rural Exports’ MV Ocean Shearer as it was loading livestock in Fremantle Port.

She was among a group of protesters representing the Forest Rescue group that climbed on board the ship at 3:00 a.m. carrying video cameras.

The protest did not disrupt the loading of the vessel. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor