22. June 2023

Investigation in Cartagena: Spain's live export industry by sea

Pole biting: A sign of thirst. In sweltering heat, these animals are loaded onto the ATLANTIC ROSE from the truck.

NADER A was built in 1977 and converted into a livestock carrier at the age of 36. The vessel is in poor condition and unsuitable for live transports.

TALIA, loaded with thousands of cattle, makes a stopover on its way from Brazil to Turkey to refuel. The pungent smell of urine and faeces from the animals can be detected up to 3.5 kilometres away in the city centre.

For years, we have been documenting the cruel conditions of live exports of European animals to third countries via sea from the Spanish port of Cartagena. In the second half of June, we documented together with our partner organisations Welfarm and Animals International, the loading of sheep once again. The animals were loaded onto the vessels NADER A and ATLANTIC ROSE. Both were destined for Libya.

Stress, panic, and violence in the Mediterranean idyll
We observe partially unshorn sheep being loaded onto the vessels directly from trucks. During the loading process, the animals are exposed to scorching summer heat. The stressed bleating of the sheep is audible from afar. The animals suffer from thirst, which is evident from them licking and biting the metal bars on the trucks. Some animals are plagued by severe coughing. However, even these animals are brutally driven through the passageways.

Some sheep are pulled by their front legs and kicked in the face by the workers. The steep ramps pose a significant risk of injury to the stressed animals. In narrow passages near the loading ramps, overcrowding occurs repeatedly, triggering even more panic among the sheep.

Cartagena also remains a hell for cattle
A few days later, our team manages to observe the livestock carrier TALIA loaded with cattle from Brazil. At this point, the animals have already been at sea for about a month and are being further transported to Turkey. Although we cannot directly observe the animals from a distance, the pungent smell of urine and faeces is noticeable up to about 3.5 kilometres away in the city centre.

The TALIA is only refuelled in Cartagena and is only cleaned after the unloading of the animals in Turkey. Due to this inadequate hygiene, the animals are exposed to a significant risk of disease. This is further exacerbated by the duration of the transports. Only when cruel transports like those from the port of Cartagena finally come to an end, can the associated animal suffering be prevented.