Stuck in Suez Canal: Thousands of animals packed tight in ship hulls

ISMAILIA (BLOOMBERG) – Of all the millions of tons of cargo that’s piled up in the Suez Canal, none is more delicate than the animals crammed into the hulls of several of the ships.

Little information is available, with neither canal officials nor shipping executives willing to talk, but data compiled by Bloomberg indicate as many as 10 vessels stuck in and around the canal could be carrying livestock. Given the Europe-to-Saudi Arabia itinerary, they are most likely carrying sheep.

While much of the waylaid cargo is commodity products such as oil that can be stored on ships for long periods, livestock need food and water, and such deliveries usually carry only enough for a few extra days. That could create a critical situation for ships to find feed supplies at a local port, or force them to turn around. Dislodging the vessel blocking the canal may take at least a week, longer than initially feared, people familiar with the matter said.

“I wouldn’t expect just after a two-day delay for a problem to have built up,” said Peter Stevenson, chief policy officer at animal-welfare group Compassion in World Farming, which has called for an end to the live-animal shipments.

“It’s as time goes by that the problems get worse. Occasionally, there are real scandals when things go wrong, but it’s a day-to-day horror.”

Cattle can also be transported by sea, and ships would generally have at least two or three days’ worth of extra hay or feed on board, said Bob Bishop, president of the Livestock Exporters Association of the USA.

If the feed runs out, they could get more from a port while refuelling. A ship that can’t get to dock could get feed from a barge in what’s known as “midstream loading,” he said.

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Source: Straits Times