There are numerous cases of injuries, stress and unnecessary pain.
More than 27,000 bull calves were forced onto the rusting NADA, a 12 story Panamanian ship designed for cattle transportation, during the last week of November. They will remain on board and at sea until December 21st, 2:00 am, local time.
Brazil´s most significant port - Santos harbour, in São Paulo state - is once again open for live cattle transportation after 20 years.
Sérgio Levy is an economist and a vegan. He has been coordinating efforts towards raising awareness of animal sentience for more than a decade.
He told The Ecologist: “About 90 bulls were loaded into each of 300 trucks heading to Santos harbour. They were not given a single break for food or water.
"We posed as a human barrier in front of the vehicles in order to document their condition, but it was all very sudden. The port's security personnel were quickly activated."
He added: "As the calves entered the ship's loading area, the steers were directed into a corridor that conveyed the animals into the vessel. The oxen by now were covered by manure and urine from the previous road journey.”
The Panamanian flagged vessel is the world's largest livestock carrier. It can carry 30,000 oxen distributed throughout its 12 stories. The operation to load the ship was launched on the night of November 29th and ended on the afternoon of December 4th.
The animals are expected to arrive at Iskenderum harbour, Turkey, before Christmas. “Hopefully, we are able to reach out to animal rights activists in Turkey and intercept the operation,” Levy stated.
There are upcoming animal shipments scheduled for January under the same precarious and cruel conditions. São Sebastião harbour, also in São Paulo state, dispatched 23,000 bulls to Singapore on December 13th.
Sergio added: "We suspect that the Brazilian company in Turkey is purchasing live cattle from Brazil, perhaps to bypass the high taxes of industrialised products - animals are still seen as 'objects'. Exported as commodities, taxes are lower.”
According to the company behind the shipments, the animals should be accompanied by a veterinarian and would have complete follow-up, including food and water.
Sérgio claims this was not always properly implemented: “According to research by the World Organization for Animal Health these transports are extremely cruel. There are hardly any veterinarians onboard and often no food.”
Dr. Lynn Simpson is an Australian veterinary surgeon and has spent the past 10 years in livestock vessels, documenting the routine of suffer of these animals.
Her research on long-term sea shipping has found: “There are numerous cases of injuries, stress, unnecessary pain caused by the precarious infrastructure, diseases and their dissemination due to the poor conditions in which these animals are kept.
"Salmonellosis and pneumonia - the so-called 'embarkation disease' - are common. The illnesses spread easily due to the high density, precarious ventilation and hygiene. Disease is common.”
The Brazilian meat industry has taken a great interest in the live cattle exportation over the past decade. Previously the market was dominated by Canada, Mexico and Australia. The first two mostly supplied United States domestic demand while Australia supplied southeastern Asian countries.
Meat consumption in Brazil has plummeted - but for the wrong reasons: recession, unemployment, poverty. At the same time, Brazil is the second largest producer of beef in the world and the largest exporter.
The Brazilian Federal Police launched operation 'Weak Meat' in March, 2017 amid allegations that large producers had been adulterating the meat they sell into both domestic and foreign markets. As a result, the European Union, South Korea, China and Chile reported that they would also stop Brazilian meat imports.
The Brazilian meat export industry is cruel - but it also has a devastating impact in terms of deforestation in the Amazon region. The work is cut out for Brazilian animal rights activists. The same can be said for our Turkish and Singaporean fellow activists.
Ana Luisa Diniz Naghettini is an undergraduate student at The Federal University of Minas Gerais. She studies computational mathematics and intends to specialise in climate modeling. She is a Brazilian animal rights and environmental activist and a vegetarian. Petitions related to the article can be found at Change.org and Animals International.