MADRID — Only weeks after hundreds of cattle were slaughtered in an eastern Spanish port after being deemed unfit for commercial purposes, Spain has ordered the culling of 1,600 calves on a second ship that survived a three-month ordeal at sea.
Nearly 180 cattle that perished during the journey were cut into pieces and thrown to the sea by the crew, according to an animal-rights group that published what it presented as Spain’s official inquiry into the livestock carrier.
The Ministry of Agriculture cited “health and the wellbeing of the animals” as reasons to order the ship’s owner to isolate the animals and slaughter them “without suffering.”
Authorities will carry out the culling if the company fails to meet a Thursday deadline for the operation, the ministry warned in a statement on Monday, adding the calves were unfit for export or to be brought back into the country.
The Elbeik, a large livestock carrier, left the northern Spanish port of Tarragona in mid-December and docked last week in Cartagena after it struggled to find buyers for its original cargo of 1,789 cattle. The ship’s fate is similar to the Lebanese-flagged Karim Allah, whose cargo of over 850 cattle were culled in the same eastern Mediterranean port earlier this month after both Turkey and Libya rejected the animals on health grounds.
The ministry said the owner of the livestock failed to secure the sale of the cattle even though they left Spain with the proper health authorization.
Igualdad Animal and other animal-right groups have used the fate of both ships as an argument to advocate for a ban on livestock exports.
The group on Monday uploaded what it said was the Agriculture Ministry’s report following last Friday’s on-site inspection to the Elbeik. According to the alleged veterinarian report, the vessel’s captain told inspectors that the crew had cut into pieces and thrown overboard the remains of 179 cattle that perished during the journey.
The report also detailed the poor and dangerous conditions of the ship’s facilities, where the inspectors found many animals crammed, malnourished or deeply dehydrated. Some of them were also showing skin marks and other health problems, the report said.
The ministry’s press office refused to confirm the veracity of the report.