Monday, March 5, 2012

Cattle Dying in Egypt's Suez Canal

Live exportation of animals is a contentious issue around the world. Stories of animals trapped on ships being refused entry into ports around the world is unfortunately not a new issue. The last incident involving a live export gone wrong occurred in 2010, when an Australian cargo ship transporting live cattle and sheep heading for the Egyptian port of Ain Sokhna decided to simply dump the carcasses over the side of the boat. This incident is believed to have triggered the 2010 shark attacks off the coast of Sharm el-Sheikh, and caused un-calculated damage to the environment of the Red Sea.

The most recent incident involves the MV Gracia Del Mar. Although registered as a Panamanian ship, the Gracia Del Mar departed from Brazil with a cargo of over 4,000 live cattle. Recently converted to a livestock vessel, the MV Gracia Del Mar allegedly had issues with ventilation in the animal hold area, causing over half of the cattle on board to perish.

The sheer volume of cattle that perished on board caused Egyptian authorities to deny port access for the ship. Accordingly, the vessel has been docked in the Red Sea entrance to the Suez Canal. It has also been denied entrance into Djibouti and Sudan for the same reasons.

Australia has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Egypt permitting the importation of live exports from Australia. As such, they are heading up the charge to try to allow the remaining cattle on board entrance into Egypt.

Animals Australia director Lyn White was quoted saying to an online publication that "Animals Australia has been working overnight with international colleague groups to find refuge for the surviving 2,000 cattle after Egyptian authorities refused to allow the animals to be unloaded...This is nothing short of an animal welfare disaster. If remaining cattle are not offloaded more of these animals will suffer appalling deaths at sea. We are appealing to authorities in Egypt to offload the remaining cattle at al-Sohkna, as was originally intended." 

White pointed to an incident involving an Australian live export ship, the MV Cormo Express carrying a cargo of sheep, where the refusal of one country after another to allow the ship to dock resulted in the death of 5,000 sheep. 

You can help let your voice be heard in this ongoing catastrophe. Email the following text to

Dear Minister
                   It has been reported that 2750 cattle have died on board the livestock vessel Gracia Del Mar. According to the report the animals are continuing to die on board this ship . The report states that the cattle have been refused port entry in Egypt, Djibouti and Sudan because of the amount of dead or dying cattle of board .

The Egyptian Authorities must take action now to allow this ship to land so that the animals can be given veterinary or , were necessary, humanely euthanized . Such action is essential to prevent even more suffering in what has become a major animal welfare disaster.