Fourteen lambs die at sea from Portugal to Israel

Live animal transport from Portugal, via Italy arrived to Israel. The the animals are now being transported to quarantine, before being further transported to the mast, November 4, 2021, photo: Israel Animal Save

Fourteen lambs died on a ship carrying live animals from Portugal to Israel. The vessel was stuck for two days near the coast of Italy before continuing to Israel.

The Phoenix III, which is 43 years old, carried 1,200 young bulls and 5,644 sheep on a two-week journey from Portugal to Israel. 

Due to bad weather, the ship, which left Sines in Portugal on October 22, was forced to stop near Mazara del Vallo, Italy. The ship stayed there for 48 hours before leaving for Haifa, Israel. 

When the ship arrived in Israel on November 4, animal rights group Israel Animal Save documented the animals cramped together. They had been stuck like that for two weeks at sea.

The animals spent eight days in quarantine in Mehola, Israel, according to animal welfare organization Four Paws. They will then be moved to feedlots across the country, where they will be fattened up for four to eight months before slaughter. 

Four Paws said that the Phoenix III is a “tragic reminder” of when nearly 3,000 Spanish animals were stranded at sea for three months earlier this year. 

“This case, as in the well-known cases of Karim Allah and Elbeik at the beginning of 2021, shows again how dangerous sea journeys can be for the animals,” Martina Stephany, director of Farm Animals and Nutrition at Four Paws, said.

“In this incident, 14 lambs were reported dead, but if the vessel [was] stuck longer, we could have seen an even bigger tragedy,” she said.

Ahead of a vote set to take place on December 2, Four Paws, along with other animal protection groups, calls on the European Parliament Committee of Inquiry on Animal Transport (ANIT) to support a ban on the live export of animals by ship. 

“The protection of animals during transport at sea is not possible for various reasons,” Stephany said. 

“Bad weather and technical failures can cause delays. Most ports are not able to shelter the animals accordingly, and conditions at sea can deteriorate suddenly with no possibility to escape, putting both animals and the crew at great risk,” she added.

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