RSPCA inspects live animal exports from Ramsgate
PUBLISHED: 16:00 01 April 2012
The animal welfare charity says it wants to insure high standards are maintained by those transporting animals to Europe
THE RSPCA has sent inspectors to Ramsgate to monitor the export of live animals from the town’s harbour.
It comes after the animal welfare charity’s new chief executive, Gavin Grant, met with Thanet Council.
The meeting also involved members of the group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) along with local campaigners who have protested against the trade which began from the port nearly a year ago.
Chief Inspector Dermot Murphy said: “The RSPCA is against the long-distance transport of live animals for slaughter or further fattening and we were at Ramsgate Port, at the agreement of Thanet District Council and Animal Health, to ensure welfare rules are not being flouted.
“The RSPCA has been making sure that the animals have access to water, that there are non-slip floors or bedding down and that the calves and sheep are in a fit condition to travel.
“We have made it clear that if there are breaches of the rules we will take action.”
Four lorries carrying around 1,800 sheep and 100 calves, arrived at the port on Wednesday. They were greeted by protesters as they entered the harbour. RSPCA inspectors assessed the welfare of the animals and examined the trucks.
Two hauliers were issued with RSPCA warning notices – one for having broken ventilation fans and another for mixing sheep, including some with horns, from different flocks in the same lorry. Animal Health also issued similar notices.
A vet was also present to check the animals were in a fit state to travel.
Chief Inspector Murphy added: “We hoped the days of seeing lorry loads of calves and sheep being shipped to Europe where they can face long journeys and may be reared in conditions which would be illegal here, were long behind us.
“Sadly that is not the case but while this trade continues the RSPCA will be at ports checking the welfare of the animals.
The RSPCA has said it has serious concerns about the suitability of the slow-moving boat, the Joline, which is being used to ship animals abroad as it can take up to six hours to make the crossing.
Chief inspector Murphy said: “This is the first time the RSPCA has been involved in a Port inspection for a number of years. So in a sense we are starting again. The whole operation went well. We have to be careful not to stress the animals anymore than they already are in the truck.
“We believe meat should be a carcass only trade. We will look to make this a regular operation to see what we can do to make this trade as safe as possible.
According to Freedom of Information requests submitted by Compassion in World Farming 9,000 calves went through Kent ports last year.
Emma Slawinski, Compassion’s senior campaigns manager, said: “As we approach the first anniversary of the arrival of live exports in Ramsgate, we are more than determined than ever to help end the trade through the port. Local people and Thanet District Council itself have made it clear they are unhappy with their port being used to transport tens of thousands of animals per year.”
The NFU has said it will work with CIWF to find a long term alternative to the calf trade but it defends its members exporting animals.
NFU chief dairy adviser Robert Newbery said: “The free trade and movement of farm animals between EU member states is a legitimate and lawful activity which is inspected and subject to strict legislative controls focused on guaranteeing high standards of animal health and welfare – an issue which we take very seriously. The NFU supports these controls and has continuously argued for a high standard of enforcement across all EU member states.”