Storm erupts over plan to ship live animals

09 September 2020 | Agriculture

JANA-MARI SMITH

WINDHOEK



Nearly 1 000 people have signed a petition demanding a stop to a proposed plan that will see about 125 000 live farm animals being shipped to the Middle East from Namibian ports.

Titled 'Say no to livestock by sea', the petition was launched by the Namibian Animal Welfare Association (NAWA) in response to a plan to transport live sheep, cattle and goats from Namibia to Kuwait for slaughter.

The proposal by Tradeport Namibia is outlined in a background information document (BID) that forms part of the company's application for an environmental clearance certificate. The BID states the operation would entail importing 70 000 live sheep, 50 000 goats and 5 000 cattle from South Africa and Botswana via Ariamsvlei for export from either Lüderitz or Walvis Bay to the Middle East.

The BID noted that in terms of animal welfare, the import and export of live animals is “inherently high-risk to animal welfare while on the voyage, particularly during the summer season”.

Internationally, the shipment of live farm animals has attracted increasing resistance, resulting in blanket bans in some countries and ongoing litigation elsewhere.



Archaic

The NAWA noted this week there are inadequate measures in place to ensure the welfare of animals in dense and crowded conditions on ships. Moreover, they said insufficient regulations, if any, are in place to ensure their well-being.

Namibia's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) also registered strong opposition to the plan.

“In 2020, there is no justifiable reason to ship animals 7 000 kilometres by sea to endure a potentially brutal death in a foreign country, especially given that the Middle East nations currently import large amounts of chilled and frozen meat,” the SPCA stated.

The society added that from a legal perspective, “this practice undermines Namibian laws and standards”. It warned that giving the green light to the live export of animals by sea would “effectively endorse an archaic trade that is struggling to maintain a social license to operate in this day and age”.



Not viable

In a brief statement, Paul Strydom of the Meat Board of Namibia highlighted that Botswana has an embargo in place on the export of cattle to both Namibia and South Africa.

He added that South Africa lost its World Organisation for Animal Health foot-and-mouth disease-free status and “thus are not able to export livestock in such quantities to Namibia”. Strydom said besides that, “livestock exports by sea are against 'Namibia's Growth at Home' strategy, and is not a preferred method of export”. He also explained that Namibia's post-drought status has severely undercut livestock quantities, raising questions on the “viability of this exercise”.



Unaware of petition

Monty Ndjavera of Tradeport Namibia said he was not aware of the petition. He said the company is a “logistics company and anything to do with transportation, we want to be a part of it”. “But we are not here to break any law, Namibian, international or otherwise. Ndjavera, who said the idea was still in its infancy, added that if there are problems related to the venture, “we can abandon the idea, and start something else”.

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