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Thousands of animals dies in live export disaster

21 December 2009
Press release

Thousands of animals perish in live export disaster

The drowning of 30,000 animals during the sinking of the Panamanian-flagged ship Danny F II near Lebanon last week serves as a harsh reminder to the New Zealand Government of why it should not allow this country’s live sheep trade to resume

While the tragedy has taken an immense human toll, with most of the 81 member crew still missing, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and animal welfare groups around the world have been highlighting the plight of the animals that have met this horrific death after having suffered a needless journey.

Bridget Vercoe, WSPA New Zealand’s Programmes Manager said one could only imagine the terror of the crew and the animals as the Danny F II went down. None of the 17,932 cattle or 10,224 sheep on board had survived and attempts to rescue the crew had been hampered by the floating animal carcasses.

“Sadly there have been numerous tragedies of this kind throughout the history of the live export trade. On 5 November 2007, the Lebanese livestock carrier DM Spiridon sank in Venezuela, after the cattle moved and broke the division barriers causing the ship to bow towards its starboard side and resulting in the death of 1,750 cows valued at $1.2 million. Days later the decomposing remains of cattle contaminated beaches and coastline of the Triste Gulf.”

Ms Vercoe said, “There are inherent and unacceptable risks every time these huge livestock vessels take to sea. When something goes wrong – such as fire, ventilation breakdown or weather extremes such as the storms that hit the Danny F II, thousands of lives are lost.”

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Previous WSPA investigations on the Danny F II and other similar cargo ships have shown how animals are packed tightly into the ship’s hold, with limited access to food and water, suffering great distress, injuries and dehydration before they arrive at slaughterhouses at their destination. In these conditions mortality or even the most “successful” journeys can often reach 10%.

“The live transport of animals for slaughter is one of the greatest causes of animal suffering in the world.

Despite efforts by a number of governments to improve the welfare of transported livestock, it is impossible to prevent the inherent suffering of animals transported long distances by sea,” she said.

ENDS

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