EU Sanctions and Sarah M – A Tale of Transporting Livestock

A 1979-built livestock carrier, the Sarah M, has found itself stuck in the Mediterranean, cruising aimlessly around southern Europe as it awaits new orders, after being barred from entering Ireland. The vessel, which was scheduled to arrive at Greenore Port on Ireland’s northeast coast on April 30 to collect cattle for export, has been caught in a web of sanctions and regulatory scrutiny.

The Sarah M was recently classified with the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, triggering European Union sanctions. Ethical Farming Ireland, a non-governmental organization (NGO), brought attention to this development, prompting Irish authorities to prohibit the ship’s entry into the country. This incident sheds light on the welfare of animals during transit, which has been a focal point of debate since long, with concerns raised about conditions aboard such vessels.

In February, the NGO addressed Irish agriculture minister Charlie McConalogue, calling for changes in the way animals are exported by sea. This demand followed a joint investigation with the NGO Israel Against Live Shipments, which highlighted issues related to animal health and welfare. The investigation revealed alarming findings, including instances of poor nutrition, overcrowded pens, stress, lowered immunity, and humidity aboard livestock carriers. These conditions were cited as contributing factors to the rapid spread of ailments such as ringworm among the transported animals.

The Sarah M incident underscores broader concerns regarding the treatment and transportation of livestock within the supply chain. This development comes amidst a series of recent incidents and controversies within the livestock supply chain, further fueling calls for reform. In addition to concerns about animal welfare during transit, issues such as food safety, environmental impact, and ethical considerations have come to the forefront of public discourse.

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