July 30, 2021

Dilapidated freighters approved for the transport of animals by the European Union

If it were necessary to establish a robot portrait of a boat intended for the transport of animals exported by the European Union (EU) by the millions each year, here is the profile that would emerge: an average age of 41 years; a first life as a multipurpose freighter converted to transporting livestock at the age of 29 by adding several upper decks; it would fly the black flag, belong to a front company, and would have been detained at least five times by port authorities for non-conformities.

In a report published on Thursday, June 17, the Robin des Bois association, in partnership with Animal Welfare Foundation and Tierschutzbund Zürich, draws up an exhaustive inventory of all the 78 maritime cattle trucks approved by the EU, that is to say – to say declared suitable by one of the Member States for the transport of live animals. It turns out that these ships are the most dilapidated ships docking in European ports: “Garbage boats” according to Robin Hood, in which animals are considered the least well-treated “commodity”.

To carry out this study, Robin des Bois, specializing in maritime safety and ship dismantling subjects, worked from a list of the European Commission dating from September 2019, listing 70 ships, to which were added eight approved livestock trailers. after that date by Portugal. Year and site of construction, history, flag, shipowner, classification society, detentions and incidents noted by the port authorities …: the report draws up, for each of these ships, a precise identity sheet which makes it possible to X-ray this fleet of ships .

Falls, fractures and other mutilations

First problem: their average age, very high, of 41 years. Sixteen approved cargo ships are over 50 years old; the oldest is 57. Age as such does not necessarily mean that the boat is dilapidated if it is the subject of good maintenance, but the livestock trailers are more subject to wear because the litter drains. The excrements and the release of ammonia accelerate the corrosion of the installations. The study thus finds that the purchase price of these end-of-life cargo ships by demolition yards is lower than that of other types of ships ($ 300 [environ 250 euros] per tonne, compared to an average of $ 400).

Then come the design issues. Only 5 of these 78 boats were built from the start for transporting animals. The others were converted into livestock trailers, on average at 29 years old, which usually corresponds to the age of departures for scrapping (30 years on average in 2019). These conversions are far from trivial. To maximize the number of animals transported, these boats have several floors of decks added to them, which modify their center of gravity. Parked in the upper decks, the animals undergo the full force of the boat’s movements, and unlike other types of goods, such as cars, strapped in during transport, the animals have no form of ” seatbelt ” and can be victims of falls, fractures and other mutilations.

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