More than 14,000 sheep have died after an animal export ship capsized in the Black Sea.
Only 33 animals survived the crash along with the entire crew of 20 Syrians and one Lebanese worker.
The reason is unknown as to why the ship named Queen Hind overturned close to the Romanian port of Midia.
But animal export boats are often crammed to the brim of animals which suffer immensely from overcrowding and overheating.
Initial investigations suggest the ship was overloaded with sheep, according to Romanian news site Digi24.
Romania’s leading livestock breeder and exporter association, Acebop, called for a thorough investigation.
President Mary Pana told AFP: “Our association is shocked by the disaster. If we cannot protect livestock during long-distance transports, we should outright ban them.”
Romania is the third largest sheep breeder in the EU and focuses its business on Middle Eastern markets.
Activists have branded the boats ‘death ships’ as investigations have revealed huge numbers dying from overheating.
Australia is one of the world’s biggest exporters of live animals, and the industry has been under intense scrutiny this year.
A report released in July revealed that thousands of sheep died in horrific conditions on-board export ships from Australia.
Many die from overheating while in pens neighbouring oil fuel heaters, or from smothering as the animals crowd around air vents for relief.
The report revealed that 600 sheep died in total on the Kuwait-flagged ship Al Shuwaikh from Australia to the Middle East in May and June last year.
However, despite the shocking conditions and hundreds of deaths, the voyage complied with the Australian standards for the export of livestock.
The report added to concerns over welfare standards, after last year an investigation revealed that 2,400 sheep died on an Emanuel Exports ship from Fremantle to the Middle East in August 2017.
Last year 60 Minutes featured an independent whistle-blower’s footage which revealed the conditions exported sheep are subjected to.
WARNING: The below video features graphic imagery which viewers may find distressing
The Australian government then promised to protect live sheep from horrific conditions and review regulations.
The idea was to revise the amount of space animals needed and modify heat risk assessment regulations.
But last month the RSPCA said authorities have made a ‘backflip on animal welfare safeguards’ in a new document.
The new discussion paper gives four possible options to govern the trade between Australia and the Middle East, which will come into effect from 2020.
But of all four options outlined by agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie, only one mentions changing heat stress regulations.
The RSPCA blasted the government for including three options which would leave sheep suffering horrendous and fatal journeys.
“The only viable option to protect the welfare of Australian live exported sheep while the trade continues is to prohibit the highest risk months of the year … and introduce the revised heat stress risk assessment model, which the government has already committed to doing on multiple occasions,” the RSPCA said in a statement.
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