2020 was full of challenges but despite the pandemic and lockdowns we still managed to get a lot done! Here is a brief overview:
- Livestock Vessel Certs of Approval Revoked: At the start of the year investigations by EFI discovered that all three livestock vessels certified for use in Ireland did not meet the criteria for certification as set out in the Carriage of Livestock by Sea Regulations. They all had management companies that were listed as low or very low performing by the European Maritime Safety Authority which is a breach of the rules. EFI informed DAFM officials and the certificates of approval were subsequently revoked. This was a huge achievement but unfortunately short lived – the vessels suddenly came under ‘new’ management companies that met the criteria so the certificates were reapproved, but at great expense and a lot of hassle for all involved.
- Live Export Protests: we managed to get three protests together, in between lockdowns – two at Cork Port and one at Waterford. Thank you everyone who came along. The Cork loading in July was shambolic with rough treatment of cattle including hitting them over the head with sticks and bending back tails, all in front of two DAFM veterinary officials. EFI submitted a formal complaint and was told that the persons responsible were ‘spoken to’ which isn’t good enough but subsequent loadings have been a lot calmer.
- Radio Interviews: EFI received some decent media coverage in 2020 starting with an appearance on the Sean Moncrieff show in February following an article in the Sunday Times on calf welfare, focusing on calf slaughter in the dairy sector and calf export. In July, following an article in the Guardian on breaches in the live export industry I was invited to appear on the Sean Moncrieff show again and also on Drivetime with Philip Boucher-Hayes. This was great exposure for the group and for the live export campaign.
- Calf Export: EFI has been working closely with Compassion in World Farming and Eyes on Animals on calf export and several letters have been sent to the Minister regarding the illegal export of unweaned calves – EU Regulation 1/2005 clearly states that unweaned calves must be fed after a maximum of 18 hours and this is not happening. Furthermore two investigations by Eyes on Animals and L214, assisted by EFI, have shown brutal treatment of calves at the control post in Cherbourg. An official complaint has also been sent to the EU Commission. We have also been working with Stena Line as the majority of calves travel on that ferry line. We will not give up until this illegal trade is stopped.
- Joint Letters: EFI has been invited on several occasions to join other NGOs from around Europe in sending letters to the EU Commission in relation to live export. It first started because of the outbreak of covid and concerns about delays at borders – livestock trucks were stuck in traffic jams for hours. We have also sent joint letters about live export to Libya, the sea journeys and environmental concerns. It is the first time that all groups have come together like this, with around 35 signing letters, so is a bit of a milestone. There is strength in numbers!
- Live Export Billboard Campaign: EFI started a Go Fund Me in November to raise funds to run a billboard campaign and has raised an incredible €5,173. An online shop was launched in December selling merchandise and that has been going well. We have just about hit target and the campaign will start on 25th January (postponed from 11th due to lockdown restrictions.)
- Meeting with DAFM: in early December EFI was invited to join a meeting with some officials from DAFM along with representatives from the ISPCA, CIWF, Eyes on Animals and Swedish Association for the Protection of Animals. The agenda included calf export and we were asked to express our concerns. This was another milestone – animal welfare groups have never been invited to meet with DAFM officials before (aside from the ISPCA.) Whilst nothing concrete came out of the meeting the fact that dialogue has opened is great progress.
I would like to say a big THANK YOU to all of you for sharing, emailing, donating, protesting and caring. We will bring about change, plenty to do in 2021!