Animals that die while being transported are being dumped in the sea, according to the Conselleria d’Agricultura, Pesca i Alimentació which claims it has evidence of three South American oxen corpses floating in Mallorcan waters near Cala Rajada and one near Palma in 2020.
It is not a new problem, but it’s become more common in recent years; often the animals are found floating in the water, but in March last year the remains of three cows washed up on the beach in Formentera and dead cows also appeared on the coast of Minorca.
The Central Government has confirmed that the bodies of animals have also appeared in Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Ceuta, Tarragona.
The International Maritime Organisation regulations state that if an animal dies during a voyage, the corpse must be cut up before being thrown overboard and never less than 100 miles from the coast.
“The regulation establishes that the dead animal must be opened, viscerated and chopped up before being thrown into the sea so that the pieces sink,” said Ministry sources. “But there’s evidence that this rule is not being met and whole bodies are being thrown into the sea.”
The South American oxen found in Mallorcan waters were apparently being shipped to Asia through the Suez Canal.
“Traditionally, local ranchers were blamed for disposing of dead animals by throwing them into the sea near the coast, but it’s been verified that the cattle were not from here, they were foreign breeds and international trade merchandise.
In Mallorca, the Consorci de Recuperació de Fauna removes dead cattle from the sea and incinerated them.
Another shadow over the maritime transport of livestock is mistreatment. There haven't been any particularly serious cases in the Balearic Islands, but in ports with intense international traffic such as Algeciras and Las Palmas, there have been interventions over the poor condition and bad health of thousands of cattle being transported in a single vessel.