Representatives from the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming also called for ministers, in the short term, to refuse to license live transports until the laws on journey times and port facilities are enforced.
Joined by a bus full of “live animals”, protesters called for an end to live exports before the two animal welfare organisations delivered a petition to Defra.
Compassion understands there are currently no live exports for slaughter from Britain to the continent, following the decision of Thanet District Council on 13th September to suspend exports from Ramsgate port after 46 sheep died at the quayside.
Associated British Ports, which runs Ipswich port, has said there are no further plans for exports from there either, after it allowed one shipment of sheep following the Ramsgate suspension.
Dil Peeling, Director of Public Affairs at Compassion in World Farming, said: “David Heath has a window of opportunity here to stop live exports from this country for good.
If small local authorities have the guts to take a stand, why not the UK government?
There is massive public opposition to the trade and these are the last drops of what was a torrent in the early to mid-nineties.
“There is an overwhelming moral and scientific argument against long distance transport of live animals. We have seen young calves being taken from Cumbria to Spain.
It’s madness to think that as long as the rules are followed this is acceptable. It is not. Live exports mean animals suffer.”
Gavin Grant, Chief Executive of the RSPCA said “We know the majority of the public do not want to see a reopening of animals being transported long distances to the continent.
We also know the Government prefers the trade to be on the hook rather than the hoof.
Our report clearly gives the Government the opportunity to stop issuing licenses where ports do not have the required facilities, particularly for unloading animals should a problem occur.
I look forward to the minister taking a principled stand on this loathsome trade for the animals.
“The RSPCA welcomes the opportunity to advise any port that is coming under pressure to reopen this trade. The shipment of live animals through any port will bring a stain on the reputation of that town.”
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