Get tougher on enforcement: the message to European Animal Welfare regulators

Last year we reported on a sophisticated tactic being used by animal welfare activists in North America: use freedom-of-information laws to get all the records showing what enforcement agencies are (not) doing, and use the results to shame and embarrass governments into doing more enforcement.

It’s a tactic that’s now spread outside North America.

Earlier this year, a group called ‘Compassion in World Farming’ produced this report on “The widespread failure to enforce European Union Law on animal transport”. It declared that failure to enforce the law in Europe is ‘widespread and commonplace’. Unlike some other animal welfare groups, CIWF was happy with what’s in the laws; it just wants them enforced: “The tools are there but they are simply often not being used.”

Well, the activists haven’t had to wait long to get their first results.

Last Thursday, 10 November, the European Commission released this media statement which commits to “considering a number of measures that would boost enforcement of the regulation and therefore increase animal protection during transport.

“The Commission will draw up implementing measures to enhance the use and performance of [GPS] navigation systems [to monitor travel times] and to increase administrative efficiency.”

Every year, more than 35,000,000 animals (cattle, pigs, sheep, horses and calves) are transported by truck within Europe and to and from Russia, Turkey and other countries.

… long-distance road transport under the spotlight

In Australia, we sometimes think that all road transport movements in Europe are short hauls. But at least in livestock, they’re logging up some fair sized runs, with 29+ hour hauls receiving a lot of attention from the animal welfare activists.

In North America too, it’s the long haul runs that are getting the attention.

While the debate in Australia is currently dominated by live export issues, you’d be mad to think that long haul movements in this country aren’t going to come under scrutiny.

The animal welfare activists are a global movement. They are hooked up to each other’s websites; they swap information, tactics and even staff – one of the cameramen who’s done the recent live export work for them came out from Europe to do the job.

Last year, there were 1.25 million head that moved from West to East in Australia. Even though the new Australian animal welfare laws are not yet in force, animal welfare groups got in cars and drove from Bunbury to South Australia, following transporters and monitoring how the animals were treated. The RSPCA was also out in force.

What’re the odds that there are already FOIs being lodged about what they saw, and didn’t see?

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