Pictures Above – The ‘Joline’ (at Ramsagte) – Photos by V Cameron – KAALE.
To visit the Kent Action Against Live Exports (KAALE) website; for which SAV founder Mark is also the EU and media correspondent; please click on the following link: www.kaale.org.uk
The following is a summary of recent events regarding live exports from the UK. Ramsgate is the only port in the UK which now exports live animals. Ramsgate is located in South East England on the English Channel. At present there is only one sailing every two weeks, comprising a maximum of six livestock transporters. Live animal exports from the UK has virtually stopped – there is just the final hurdle to overcome now and hopefully the UK will be live export free.
Live Exports – Criminals running the show
Johannes Onderwater runs a Dutch registered company called Onderwater Agneaux BV. He pleaded guilty on behalf of his company at Folkestone magistrates’ court on 5 July 2010 to 6 offences of not displaying any sign on his vehicles indicating the presence of live animals contrary to the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 & of Council Regulation (EC) 2005 on the protection of animals during transport. The prosecutor was Kent Trading Standards. Mr Onderwater had also described the cargo of live animals in consignment notes as seafood, frozen meat and boxed meat.
This ‘Box Wagon’ IS actually carrying live animals.
The court found this was in order to deceive the ferry companies. Mr Onderwater had been informed on several occasions that he was contravening the legislation by not displaying such signs yet the company continued to commit the same offence in the 2 months following the first detection. On 1 Sept 2009, 320 sheep were transported described as meat. On 30 Sept 2009, an unspecified number of sheep described as meat for further processing. On 11 Nov 2009, 240 sheep described as meat. On 14 Nov 2009, 307 sheep described as seafood. Mr Onderwater was driving this lorry. Also on 14 Nov 2009, 286 sheep described as boxed meat. On 19 Nov 2009, 270 sheep described as frozen meat.
He was fined £1,000 for each offence, with costs of £4,355. Onderwater represented his company at an appeal against this sentence at Canterbury Crown court on 10 Aug 2010. On appeal the total fine remained at £6,000 but costs were reduced by £680 to £3,675. Judge O’Sullivan fined the company £400 for the 1st offence, £800 for the 2nd, £1,000 each for the 3rd 4th & 5th offences and £1,800 for the 6th.
Judge O’Sullivan said in his sentencing remarks that there was no offence which involved “mistreatment of animals” but that the company’s persistent offending despite being caught made it quite clear that the company had no intention of trying to abide by the regulations. The judge noted that there is a wider use for these signs to indicate the presence of live animals on vehicles and that it is important, for instance, in case of an accident that the cargo can be identified as being livestock so that the necessary measures for safeguarding the welfare of the animals can be put into operation. Despite all this he continues to “run the show” from Ramsgate
Shipments from Ramsgate
15th Nov – Joline berthed in Ramsgate around 05.00 hrs. 7 lorries arrived from 9.15 in convoy. All were Dutch, 5 with 3 tiers of sheep, one with 4 tiers of sheep and finally the white chiller box trailer. All bar this one had the ventilation slats closed on arrival and inside the docks.
J Onderwater even went so far as to tell the RSPCA inspectors that they were not allowed to touch, look into or interfere with his lorries in any way or to prevent him exporting his livestock – to which reply was given that the RSPCA just wanted to ascertain the animals were in good condition and health for the journey ahead and not suffering in any way. We can only assume that J Onderwater has much to hide. Loading of the vehicles onto the Joline was at a steady pace with Rinus Van Beer on first, eventually the 2 halves of this rig were separated and stowed apart on deck. Any inspection of the lorries by Animal Health was swift and of short duration. Ship sailed at 10.25 bound for Calais.
21st Nov – At 0320hrs on 21st, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) issued a warning – Gale force 6 currently off Dover, gusting 7/8 from lunchtime onwards. A formal complaint from KAALE was sent to the MCA regarding the deteriorating weather conditions and the Joline’s intention to sail loaded with livestock into a potentially ever increasing Channel gale. KAALE requested that their complaint be formally logged by the MCA.
No action was taken by Defra Animal Health to stop the sailing as far as KAALE are aware. Despite RSPCA objections and severe weather warnings, a ship left Ramsgate at 11am carrying 2 lorry loads of sheep on an open deck in gale force winds. The ship eventually turned back due to the severe weather, arriving at Ramsgate at 4:30pm. Some animals had been crammed aboard trucks for 14 hours, 6 of those hours spent at sea in a gale. Just imagine how they felt. After a very brief inspection by an Animal Health approved vet which was undertaken on the vessel, and lasting in total 8 minutes – including the time taken for the vet to walk onto the ship; ‘inspect’ all the animals in the transporters, and leave again; the vehicles were given the ‘ok’ to move. DEFRA / the vet, was allowed onto the ship to inspect the animals as the conditions on the quay were so bad he felt it would be unsafe. They departed Ramsgate to return to their place of origin. The 2 transporters were the Dutch white box chiller type trailer carrying sheep x 3 tiers and a vehicle known to belong to local, Kent based, haulier/dealer Trevor Head carrying sheep x 3 tiers. Since there was nothing in Kent in the form of a suitable ‘facility’ to which animals could be sent should any emergencies happen, or bad weather delays occur at Kent ports, despite the 2008 EU report stating there should be, the Dutch lorry returned to Kettering.
Animal Health appear to be blaming the Joline captain and the MCA for what happened. The RSPCA were refused access by AHVLA to do any inspections. Please write to your MP and ask him or her to ask Rt Hon David Heath, the secretary of state for DEFRA, personally to answer why this obviously unsuitable ship was allowed to sail in such weather conditions, and also why, the RSPCA is being denied access to inspect the animals. KAALE understands that the box trailer was told to stop in a service area and rest for one hour before continuing its journey to Kettering. Understandably, and quite rightly, the RSPCA are once again very frustrated and angry with the general ‘carry on’ fiasco witnessed on the 21st but are helpless in view of DEFRA and Animal Health’s insistence that it is ‘nothing to do with them’ and ‘they should mind their own business’. We also understand that Animal Health are now issuing reports on Twitter.com/avhla which says the events were all the MCA’s fault as they told captain it was OK. We wonder what the MCA thinks of this?
Following this incident Keith Taylor MEP for S.E. England and a member of the European Parliament’s Intergroup for Animal Welfare has written to the UK’s Animal Welfare minister, David Heath MP, to request an urgent meeting. Keith is urging the government to take this issue seriously so that the welfare of animals is properly protected during live transport. He is also calling for urgent action to be taken to address consistent violations of animal welfare legislation. Keith said: “EU legislation is in place to ensure animals do not have to experience these awful conditions and it is unacceptable that we are frequently witnessing the law being violated by both the live exports industry and the government.
These poor animals are needlessly continuing to suffer.” He’s also written to the new EU Commissioner with responsibility for animal welfare, Tonio Borg, calling on him to take action on the UK’s lack of enforcement of EU legislation. Keith Taylor concluded: “As a Green MEP, I am opposed to live exports of animals from the UK and believe there should be an 8 hour maximum journey time across the EU. European regulations must also be strengthened to better protect animals. In the meantime I believe that EU member states must fully enforce current EU rules protecting animals in transit.” Keith has written to the government’s Animal Health Agency urging them to accept the support of RSPCA inspectors in monitoring the welfare of the animals.
Fri 23rd Nov – The Joline had moored in Ramsgate to await more favourable weather conditions. Suddenly, during the early afternoon of 23rd she moved from that mooring and requested to occupy Berth 2. The Harbour Master denied this request as the statutory 24 hours notice had not been given. This behaviour is typical; the master does not appear to know the rules by which ports and harbours operate to facilitate smooth running and safety. Having been refused access to the berth, The Joline’s master then switched off his ship to shore radio and proceeded along to berth 2 and swung his vessel across all the berths, thereby effectively blocking them and denying any other vessels access. He demanded use of berth 2. Meanwhile, 3 livestock lorries loaded with sheep were seen heading for Ramsgate. These must be the same sheep from the aborted sailing 2 days previously. There were originally to have been 4 lorries for that shipment, but only 2 actually made it. Back at Ramsgate 2 vessels which work for the Wind Farm (London Array) that operates out of Ramsgate, were trying to get into their berths in the port in order to carry on their legitimate business; but they were unable to do so. (We hope they put in a formal complaint) Eventually they were able, with difficulty, to squeeze around the Joline to get into their required berths. The 3 livestock lorries sped into the port, joined by a 4th. When they all arrived at the docks they were refused entry. Had the sheep had been unloaded from the lorries since the aborted Wednesday fiasco?? The situation was finally resolved when Port owners, Thanet District`Council’s legal team, arrived at the docks and overrode the decision of the harbourmaster; thus allowing Joline the use of berth 2. The legal team, are obviously minded of the ruling by Judge Burton that until the Judicial review the operation of Joline and the livestock export for slaughter trade be allowed to continue. Allowing a legal trade to continue legitimately is one thing, but when that trader takes the law into his own hands and holds a port to ransom, is quite another. Tantamount almost to piracy. DEFRA, who had obviously been tipped off about the shipment by their chums, Peter Z and Johannes Onderwater, gave the 4 livestock lorries a ‘cursory glance’ and declared them fit, as always. The Joline then left the port at 16. 20 hrs. The RSPCA had not been informed of this shipment and were not present, no doubt a ploy to prevent any hold up in the contrived inspections of the sheep by the so called ‘competent’ government authority. Peter Z and the Animal Health operatives then exited the docks at Ramsgate by the back entrance.
Wed 12th Dec –Meridian & BBC South East TV were at the port together with protesters and police. As this was the first sailing since the Joline’s aborted sailing of 21st Nov and her subsequent piratical seizing of the berth at Ramsgate on 23rd Nov one would have expected a larger shipment this time, so maybe their business is not as flourishing as they would wish. Joline berthed just before 0800 hrs. At 0850 hrs the lorries, all carrying sheep in 3 tiers, arrived – 3 Dutch and one English (Trevor Head). The RSPCA inspector in attendance noticed that on this transporter the roof over the top tier had been lowered, giving the sheep on this level scant headroom. When requested, Mr Head raised the roof to allow more headroom. DEFRA to inspect all 4 transporters in this shipment as per new edict. One issue we disagree with Defra and AHVLA over is the carrying of horned and dehorned animals in the same lorry. Defra says that as the sheep were “all from the same flock and ‘familiar’ with each other”; in their opinion, all was perfectly ok. KAALE is of the opinion that such a flock in a large field is all well and good as there is plenty of room for the flock’s hierarchy to work properly; but in the cramped and confined conditions of a livestock trailer, this hierarchical structure cannot work so well.
The day before the debate in Parliament about Ramsgate live animal exports, Defra Minister (and ex pig farmer) David Heath made the very antagonising statement about the RSPCA, saying: “The RSPCA …. needs to make a choice over whether they are a fringe campaign group or a responsible organisation working with us in partnerships on animal welfare. They cannot do both.” Maybe because they do not agree with the government view (aka David Heath) on live animal exports, suddenly a well respected animal welfare charity becomes a fringe organisation. It is the government who are out on the fringe, totally out of tune with public opinion. Maybe they are getting worried about the situation; like introducing new inspection regulations at Ramsgate just the day before live exports are discussed in Parliament. KAALE
Barco de Vapor, Dutch-based owner of the ferry Joline, alleges Thanet district council, which runs the port of Ramsgate, is trying to damage legitimate businesses. The council denies any collusion with protesters.
Campaigners against live exports from the Port of Ramsgate have staged a demonstration outside Kent Police headquarters in Maidstone. The protesters handed in a letter addressed to the county’s new police and crime commissioner, Ann Barnes, urging her to look at the way the force handles the protests. They claim it has been heavy handed. Police said public safety was the main consideration when policing protests.
Parliamentary debate on live exportsGo to the following linkto find the debate of 13th Dec. Scroll forward to 12.13 for the start of this debate. www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=11990&wfl=true
Other live export routes
Cattle from farms in England and Scotland have been transported via a Scottish port and Northern Ireland for export either to Ireland or to Spain. Although the numbers of sailings are relatively low, the government’s Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), responsible for ensuring proper welfare arrangements, has revealed 9 consignments totalling more than 1,000 cattle, mostly unweaned calves, were sent out of the UK in this way in the first half of 2012. It is understood that the route is still being used, since the trade is legal under EU law. The AHVLA inspectors check the animals at a centre near one of the ports but the agency has withheld information about which port or ports in Scotland are used, where ships dock in Northern Ireland, details of the final destinations or those involved in the trade. Doing so might jeopardise the health and safety of its staff, it says. But data released to Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) under freedom of information requests prompted the charity to warn of a “furtive return” to the trade by other ports. CIWF says in the 18 months between Jan 2011 and June 2012, over 80,000 sheep and nearly 12,000 cattle were exported from Britain. Young calves, which could be just 2 to 3 weeks old when exported, were poorly equipped to stand up to such trips. Philip Lymbery, chief executive of CIWF, said: “Calves are being taken from England up to Scotland, via ferry to Northern Ireland, on through Ireland and over to Spain via another, gruelling, ferry journey. The only way we were able to find this out was through FoI requests – we’ve had to drag information out of Defra and we think it’s something people will want to know. “I think many British people will be appalled that these young animals are being taken on these nonsensical journeys of almost 100 hours. For one journey totalling 94 hours in June, there is no evidence of any inspections having taken place. If this is the case, there are calves going on gruelling journeys, likely to take a terrible toll on them physically, without having their wellbeing monitored.” The charity said it had commissioned a YouGov online opinion poll of 2,059 adults which suggested just 6% of people thought animals should be exported live for food. 66% would prefer the animals to be slaughtered in the UK, a preference shared by the government. The poll also said 62% felt companies involved in the trade should bear greater costs instead of British taxpayers subsidising it by funding policing and inspections of animals by government staff. “We are in a ridiculous position in Britain, where we don’t agree with live exports but are forced to subsidise it with our taxes,” said Lymbery. “It’s shocking that calves from this country are being transported over several days across Europe. Profit is clearly taking precedence over the welfare of our farm animals.” The Guardian 13th Dec
And there is further good news:
European Parliament votes to improve welfare of live animals during transport
Posted on 12/12/2012
Eurogroup for Animals welcomes the outcome of the vote today in the European Parliament plenary on the own-initiative report of Janusz Wojciechowski MEP on the protection of animals during transport which sends a strong message to the Commission urging it to act quickly.
Despite the on-going implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005, on the protection of animals during transport severe problems persist, due mainly to poor enforcement by Member States. This report goes a long way towards addressing the issues we see and calls on the Commission to act now:
- to ensure an effective and uniform enforcement of existing EU legislation on animal transport across all Member States;
- to present a full evaluation of all the economic, environmental and social costs and benefits incurred by the transport of animals, including a comparison between the transport of animals for slaughter and the transport of carcasses and food products;
- to implement an extensive consumer information campaign on the subject of the European regulations on animal welfare, providing continuous information on the changes being required of European producers for the purposes of raising the profile of their work and improving the added value of their production;
- to ensure that in all bilateral trade negotiations with third countries the EU’s animal welfare rules are included as the minimum standard required;
- to introduce legislative proposals before 1 January 2014, aimed at creating an EU-wide common framework for data collection and control through real-time satellite navigation;
- to undertake research into how new and existing technology can be applied in livestock vehicles to regulate, monitor and register temperature and humidity to protect the welfare of animals during transport;
- to increase the number of unannounced Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) spot inspections focused on animal welfare and the transport of animals;
- to ensure that veterinary controls on animals being transported take place at the end of their transport.
“The Report sends a clear message to the European Commission that Europe’s citizens see the problems associated with the transport of live animals as a major issue. Mr Wojciechowski has listened to these concerns and produced a Report, that is supported by the European Parliament and which is extremely positive for animal welfare. However, as Eurogroup we still believe that there are some areas where we would call on the Commission to go even further especially when it reconsiders limiting the transport time of animals. We believe that this time should be minimised as much as possible and that animals should be slaughtered as close to the place of origin as possible,” commented Michel Courat, policy officer – Farm Animals at Eurogroup for Animals.
“There has been much resistance by the Commission to come forward with new legislation but it must take its responsibilities seriously. It must also act today to ensure that all Member States play their part and enforce the current legislation to improve the welfare of millions of animals today and penalise effectively those who flout the laws,” he concluded.
RSPCA – We’ve vowed to take on legal fight for live export animals
We have vowed to fight on for the animals after a High Court judge has indicated he will consider a fresh judicial review application from us in the New Year, concerning the transport of live animals from Ramsgate port.
This comes after Thanet District Council lifted its temporary ban on live animal exports out of Ramsgate in November, despite huge opposition from the public and animal welfare organisations alike.
Inadequate facilities explained in court
We have told the court that the port of Ramsgate still has inadequate facilities to help animals in the event of an emergency as happened on the 12 September, or disruption to sailings due to very rough weather, as occurred on 21 November.
We further note that Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency are no longer carrying out thorough inspections of the animals at the port.
Having heard the legal arguments, Mr Justice Mailes indicated that he would consider a fresh judicial review application on this issue in the New Year.
Thanet District Council took the decision to close the port to live exports after a horrific incident in September when 47 sheep died.
A High Court judge, Mr Justice Burton, then said in October that the port should reopen pending a judicial review brought by the hauliers against the Council’s temporary ban. That case was effectively brought to an end at yesterday’s hearing.
Animal Fighting Fund
Today we are launching a ‘Fighting Fund’ to help pay for such legal cases to fight for animals in court.
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said:
We will not step away from this – the battle to end live exports is far from over.
The lack of proper facilities at the port of Ramsgate and the failure to thoroughly inspect animals as they loaded aboard ship are both unacceptable. This cannot go on.
We are here for the animals and they deserve their case to be heard in court, to do that we need the public’s help. We have a highly professional and successful legal team but going to court is not cheap.
The RSPCA relies entirely on the public to fund our work and I am certain that they will dig deep and ensure the animals get their day in court.
We are urging our supporters to contact their local MP to persuade them to attend the House of Commons on Thursday where a debate will be held on live exports.
To donate to the RSPCA Animal Fighting Fund please:
To give £3 now text FIGHT to 88010
(Texts cost £3 + 1 standard network rate message)
To donate via phone, please call 0300 123 8181 now (24 hours a day)
To donate online, please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/urgent
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