By Tom Westcott.
London, 20 February 2013:
A shipload of Irish cattle bound for Libya left Ireland last night – the first in . . .[restrict]17 years.
A specially-designed vessel, the 1983 Livestock carrier Al Mahmoud Express, set sail from Ireland’s Bellvue Port of Waterford carrying 2,900 young bulls.
John Bryan, from the Irish Farmers Association, welcomed the resumption of trade between Libya and Ireland. “This is about competition,” he said, “Ireland is a small country and we need access to North African markets.”
Speaking on Irish radio station RTE this morning, Bryan defended shipping the cattle against criticism from Irish animal rights activists. Two groups, the Alliance for Animal Rights (AFAR) and Vegan Ireland, held a candlelit vigil at the port last night in protest at what they say is the cruel trade of “young calves.”
The groups, which oppose live export and all other animal exploitation, expressed concern at the conditions on the ship. “These animals are being unnecessarily subjected to what will probably be 15 days in the hold of a ship in horrendous conditions and rough seas,” said Bernie Wright, spokesperson for AFAR.
“Nobody was allowed on the boat to film, not even RTE,” she said, “and the boat left early to avoid publicity.”
Bryan, however, said that the boat, which has recently been refurbished, “meets the highest standards in the world.” He said that the Irish department of agriculture had inspected the boat and deemed it suitable for such exports, adding that he had been on the boat himself.
“I inspected the cattle on the boat and they’re all bulls over 12 months of age and all good and healthy,” Bryan said. He added that the cattle were “good pure Irish beef.”
The cattle are expected to arrive at Tripoli Port in 10 days time. Depending on weather conditions and port delays, the total journey could be as long as 15 days.
AFAR also expressed concern about how the animals would be treated once they were disembarked, pointing out that Libya has no animal welfare regulations.
The Port of Waterford declined to talk to the Libya Herald. [/restrict]