By La Provence (with AFP)
Nearly 800 bulls have been repatriated from Algeria to the south of France where they must be slaughtered after more than two weeks of administrative imbroglio with the Algerian authorities, noted an AFP photographer on Thursday.
Recognizable by its name painted on the back of the hull, the “Nader.A”, the ship which left Sète (Hérault) on September 3 to transport the bulls on board to Algeria, was seen Thursday afternoon by an AFP photographer anchored off the port of Sète.
Earlier in the day, the boat was stationary”approaching the port of Sète” had indicated the French Ministry of Agriculture, adding that “a veterinary visit and analyzes [étaient] In progress“.
Two days after the departure from France of the cattle carrier, an 81-meter ship under the Togolese flag and 45 years old, the Algerian authorities had prohibited the unloading of cattle on their soil.
The French authorities explained on Wednesday in Paris that a “difficulty of interpretation“of the health status of three animals was the cause of the blockage, ensuring that”there was no breach by the French authorities on the export certificate“having allowed the departure of the beasts of Sète.
Healthy bulls had been vaccinated against infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR). However, documents attached to their export certificate bore the mention “IBR positive” – falsely suggesting that they were carriers of the virus.
Despite a clarification provided by France, Algeria nevertheless refused them entry into its territory.for regulatory reasons“.
After “fruitless discussions“, France has decided to bring back the boat and to slaughter these 780 animals: they have, in fact, “been fed with hay” from Algeria, a country where another animal disease – foot and mouth disease – is present.
The risk of contamination is “extremely minimal, but cannot be ruled out“, detailed the government. Cattle will not be “not put back into the circuit of human consumption“once slaughtered.
“We doubt that the problem comes from a risk of contamination due to foot-and-mouth disease: we believe that there was a risk of infection on board with the IBR disease”Adrienne Bonnet, representative of the farm animal welfare NGO Welfarm, told AFP on Wednesday evening.
Since Tuesday, the association has accused the authorities of having “approved this transport of animals in defiance of health requirements” and ensures that about thirty of them died at the dock.
“We have no information that would indicate a particular problem“on the state of health of the animals, affirmed the ministry, which specifies that the boat is approved and”has been inspected on departure from Sète by our services“.