UK animal welfare organisation the RSPCA has raised fresh concerns over the conditions of animals being exported from Ramsgate port.
The charity said that more than 1,500 sheep were recently shipped in poor condition from the port, which re-opened last month after being closed by authorities over an incident that left 47 sheep dead.
The recent shipment consisted of six lorries of sheep, but the RSPCA said its officers were only able to inspect two, because the rest had their sides raised. In one of these lorries inspectors found sheep that were coughing and weepy-eyed. In the other they found so many sheep lying down that others were forced to stand on top of them.
The RSPCA also raised concerns over the boat used to transport the ship, the Joline, which was a flat-bottomed Russian tank carrier. An
RSPCA spokesperson told Globalmeatnews.com that these flat bottomed boats are designed to work in rivers, not the open sea, and are unsuitable for choppy Channel crossings.
“You never see a ferry made with a flat bottom attempting to cross the Channel,” she said. “A flat-bottomed boat is not designed to cope with wave power. It makes it very unstable and it lurches about, which throws the sheep across the sides and inevitably causes injuries.”
She said that exporters often try and minimise injuries by packing sheep so tightly into the boat that they cannot fall over.
Thanet District Council took the decision to close Ramsgate in September, but the High Court said it should reopen pending a judicial review, which is scheduled for December.
Gavin Grant, chief executive of the RSPCA said: “Once again the people of Ramsgate have been forced to witness the appalling sight of sheep clearly in difficulty being loaded onto the Joline. This is a vile trade.
“The RSPCA will continue to demand that it be ended once and for all and that, while the trade continues, the full costs of all veterinary and animal health regulatory inspections, as well as lairage and emergency facilities, should be borne by the hauliers and shipment industry, rather than by the taxpayer.”