Nearly 800 young bulls that left Sète by boat remained stranded in the port of Algiers for more than 2 weeks. Repatriated to France, after an imbroglio on their health status with the Algerian authorities, all the animals will be euthanized. The Welfarm association which revealed the case speaks of a scandal.
Two days after the departure of the livestock vessel from the port of Sète, on September 3, these 780 cattle were prohibited from landing in Algeria.
In question, a “difficulty of interpretation” on the health status of three animals, explains the French Ministry of Agriculture.
These healthy bulls had been vaccinated against infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR). However, documents attached to their export cerfa certificate bore the words “IBR positive”, which could lead to the mistaken belief that they were carriers of the virus. While this actually validated their vaccination.
Despite a clarification provided by France, Algeria refused them entry into the territory “for regulatory reasons”.
“There was no breach by the French authorities on the export certificate”which allowed their departure from Sète, assures France.
This situation is surprising. France exports a lot of cattle to Algeria and for a long time. If the health authorities in Algiers refused the shipment, it is because they had good reasons, they had doubts. The veterinary documents are the same at each crossing, how can there be “a difficulty in interpreting the health status”?Judith Dei Rossi, Welfarm legal affairs officer.
At France 3 Occitanie.
After “fruitless talks”, France has decided to bring the boat back, and to slaughter these 780 animals. They have, in fact, “been fed with Algerian hay” when stationed, fodder from a country where another animal disease, foot-and-mouth disease, is present.
The risk of contamination is “extremely minimal, but cannot be ruled out”details the government, which wishes to avoid the introduction of this disease on European soil, in the name of the principle of health precaution.
“We doubt that the problem comes from a risk of contamination due to foot-and-mouth disease. We believe that there was a risk of infection on board with the IBR disease”said Wednesday evening to AFP Adrienne Bonnet, representative of the NGO for the defense of farm animals Welfarm.
Since Tuesday, the association has accused the French authorities of having “approved this transport of animals in defiance of health requirements” and ensures that about thirty of them died at the quay in Algiers.
“We have no information that indicated a particular problem” on the state of health of the animals, affirmed the ministry, which specifies that the boat is approved and “has been inspected on departure from Sète by our services”.
The association also denounced the departure of cattle on a “trash freighter flying the flag of Togo”, “in operation for 45 years”. According to her, checks carried out in March had revealed “16 safety failures” on this ship.
“The scandals keep repeating themselves, revealing the shortcomings of the European regulation on the transport of live animals”believes the NGO, which is campaigning for its ban on countries outside the European Union.
France is the leading European beef producer and exports 1.5 million live cattle every year. It does not plan to prohibit their transport, but indicates that on the occasion of a revision of European legislative texts on animal protection in 2023, “discussions could take place to discuss changes in the regulations”.