With borders closing for people in Europe due to the coronavirus, animal advocacy organization Eurogroup for Animals, together with 35 animal protection organizations, calls on the European Commission to take immediate action when it comes to live transport of animals.
They ask for a ban on all exports of animals by land and sea to non-EU countries and journeys that take longer than 8 hours. They stress that in this crisis, neither veterinarians or police can check if animal welfare rules are being followed.
Animals are considered ‘goods’ or ‘products’ in the world. Most countries have no restrictions on the import of products, which means that animals are still being transported by land, sea or air.
Live transport of cows, chickens, pigs, sheep and other animals is still happening in Europe, even though the waiting times at borders are sometimes extremely long. For example, at the Spanish and Moroccan borders, trucks with animals on board sometimes have to wait up to 20 hours until they can go through. The long waiting time worsens the already harsh conditions for these animals.
The European Commission so far has not taken any precautions when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of animals during the coronavirus outbreak.
“The EU Member States can decide to suspend the trade of live animals. If the competent authorities can’t ensure compliance with the Transport Regulation, they should stop issuing authorizations,” says Reineke Hameleers, CEO of Eurogroup for Animals. “Given the uncertainties we are facing, as well as the risks for the drivers, this should be a likely scenario.”
Hameleers added that there is a solution to end the inhumane conditions of animals transported alive: “We believe that with the COVID-19 outbreak we are confronted once more with the limitations of the current system based on the live animals’ trade, and we emphasize our call for its replacement with the transport of meat and carcasses, as well as semen and embryos.”
Eurogroup for Animals analyzed the current system and published a report describing the driving forces of the trade in live animals, as well as policy instruments to shift to a meat and carcasses trade.