Taking the livestock campaign to the IMO

Tumultuous. That seems to be the cliché mot du jour among shipping editors at this time of year where annual roundups proliferate. I, too, have been guilty of using the word just yesterday in unveiling our latest quarterly survey. For our review of the year, however, you’re going to have to wait until this time next week.

In the meantime please do give us your verdict on what lies ahead for shipping in 2017 by spending a couple of minutes filling out our survey, MarPoll. There is no registration and let’s face it, it is that time of year where besides twiddling your thumbs you don’t have much to do.

In terms of the past week on Splash there is no doubt in my mind about the most important thing carried on this site. Dr Lynn Simpson, the great exposé writer on the livestock trades, took her campaign to the next logical step by penning an open letter to the secretary general of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) demanding changes to the sector.

The letter was read by thousands of you and elicited plenty of reader reaction.

“Aside from some very occasional, notified well in advance, lax inspection ‘processes’/box ticking demonstrations, including out of Australia, the operators are left alone to do whatever they like,” one reader wrote in, adding: “No wonder the animals suffer, though we never hear the true extent of it, and so too we hear little about the suffering of the crew who are very often nothing more than slaves.”

To get this campaign moving we need to enter the painfully slow process of getting noticed at the UN maritime arm.

IMO procedure is such that in order to propose a new work programme item, it is necessary to submit the proposal through a member state (or states), not a non-governmental organisation although NGOs can attach their names to a member state submission.

What often happens is that a NGO with a burning issue submits an INF. paper, which is an information paper, as distinct from a work programme proposal. This is an initial move, (or opening salvo, if you wish). INF. papers do not need to be initiated by a member state.

In addition, NGOs are entitled (as are member states and international organisations) to give presentations during the lunch breaks or after close of business, and these are open to all delegates to attend and tend to be quite popular. All they need to do is contact the IMO Conference Division well in advance of a meeting to ask for a slot (allocated on a first come, first served basis).

Given Lynn’s superb reportage on the horrors that crews face when working on these livestock carriers, we are now lobbying the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) to take up our campaign at the IMO. We will keep you posted on developments – save it to say, it is the IMO, don’t expect anything to happen fast!

We will not be putting out a newsletter again until next Friday so on behalf of all the team at Splash I wish you all a great festive season.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. To ship live animals that are destined to be slaughtered for meat is unnecessary. They should be killed at their country of origin and transported frozen. The argument about ritual slaughtering is a sterile debate. Halal and Kosher Slaughtering can be done efficiently at port of origin. There is no excuse for the ocean passage of live animals, it is a disgrace.

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