x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Shipload of diseased lambs and goats turned back from port

Customs officials turned away a cargo ship carrying 950 diseased or dead animals last week, sending the vessel back to India.

ABU DHABI // Customs officials turned away a cargo ship carrying 950 diseased or dead goats and lambs last week, sending the vessel back to India after it tried to unload at Ras al Khaimah. The Ministry of Environment and Water's quarantine section boarded the vessel in the early hours Thursday morning. Veterinarians immediately diagnosed the livestock with foot-and-mouth disease and bluetongue disease, a non-contagious, insect-borne viral infection.

Some of the animals had not survived the voyage, according to Sultan Abdullah Alwan, the ministry's executive director of agricultural and animal affairs. "Our people saw just with their eyes that animals were already dead on that ship," he said. "There was no need to check. If we take blood tests, that means we've started procedures to allow them to come to our country. But we want to be sure not to allow [the livestock] to come near to us."

Mr Alwan said that the vessel had originally attempted to take the goats and lambs to Kuwait for sale, but port authorities there sent them away. Kuwaiti officials alerted the GCC and provided a description of the ship. "They called us and all GCC countries to say this ship is coming," he said, adding that "all our borders are working together with local and federal authorities to refuse them". @Email:mkwong@thenational.ae