The improper movement of cattle from the Netherlands to the Republic of Ireland that left two Dutch animals stranded at Stranraer in Scotland has led to immediate calls from NFU Scotland for European legislation on Bluetongue to be tightened and properly enforced by all member states.
A shipment of six Dutch dairy heifers had legally transited Scotland on route to Southern Ireland. However, the discovery at the port of Larne in Northern Ireland that two of the animals had been pregnant before being vaccinated against Bluetongue breached the European requirements on movements between Europe’s BTV8 zone, which includes the Netherlands, and a BTV-free zone like Ireland.
The result was that two animals were refused entry to Ireland and shipped back on the ferry to Stranraer. The Union understands that the Scottish Government is urgently considering its options as to how it deals with the cattle involved.
NFU Scotland Vice-President Nigel Miller said:
“This is an absolute mess and a desperately disappointing state of affairs given Scotland’s sterling efforts to keep the disease out the country. We have urged the Scottish Government to send these animals back from whence they came and a clear message delivered to the authorities in Holland. The fact of the matter is that if the Dutch had been properly policing movements, then these two animals would never have left Holland in the first place.
“If member states like the Netherlands, with a history of Bluetongue disease, are failing to implement existing Bluetongue movement controls then it underlines the urgent need for stronger European regulations that will protect a country like Scotland from getting this devastating disease. That would hopefully include rules that would prevent the transit of animals from Bluetongue areas through Scotland to elsewhere.
“This is another example of the existing EU requirements on Bluetongue breaking down. It is in addition to the numerous imports of animals from Europe into England and Wales last year where animals tested positive for the virus when they arrived in GB.
“Temperatures across Europe are now rising and the period when the midges responsible for transmitting the deadly virus are inactive is coming to an end. The need for extra vigilance against the disease is growing. Sticking by the voluntary ban on livestock imports into Scotland is the main way of protecting the nation against importing the disease and we welcome the fact that Scottish livestock producers are backing the ban.
“The Scottish Government will convene a meeting of its Bluetongue stakeholders next week. In light of this breach, we will be pressing for Scotland to again pursue tighter European rules that will help protect our livestock and we will ask other stakeholders to reinforce their support for the voluntary import ban.”
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