After Dramatic Shipwreck, Global Pressure, Romania Plans to Regulate Live Exports

FOUR PAWS continues to fight for safe shelter for surviving sheep 


December 5, 2019 – Following the tragic ship accident with over 14,000 live sheep on board, an exhaustive rescue operation by Four Paws and our partners, and global outrage over the incident, Romanian government is taking the first appropriate actions.

After a meeting with Romanian Four Paws partner organization ARCA among other animal welfare advocates, Animals International, the Romanian Minister of Agriculture, Adrian Oros, spoke out in favour of suspending live exports to countries outside the European Union. In the medium term, frozen meat is to be exported instead. FOUR PAWS sees this decision as the right step – also for other EU countries.

“This decision by Romania, one of the largest exporters in the EU, is an important signal in terms of animal welfare. Other EU member states must follow this example. Thousands of animals suffer every day from horrendous transport conditions over extremely long distances. It is about time to, if at all, export meat instead of animals ready for slaughter,” says Dr Martina Stephany, Director of the Farm Animals and Nutrition department at FOUR PAWS.

The announcement by the Romanian Minister of Agriculture followed peaceful protests by local and international organization s such as FOUR PAWS, ARCA, Animals International, Animal Society, Ethics and Future, FREE, Nima Sanctuary, Romanian Vegan Association and Agent Green against live animal exports in Bucharest on Monday 2nd December.

Additionally, FOUR PAWS calls on all EU member states to end all existing agreements on the export of live animals to third countries and to introduce a maximum transport time of eight hours. “The European Commission is also urgently called upon here to act quickly – also regarding the complete elucidation and consequences of this latest catastrophe,” demands Stephany.

In cooperation with local authorities and FOUR PAWS, ARCA was able to recover 254 of the 14,600 sheep involved in the accident. Over 70 of the rescued sheep have now died of their serious injuries. Veterinarians from the Romanian Veterinary Office are currently treating the remaining sheep on a farm. Their future remains uncertain. FOUR PAWS keeps fighting for the safe housing and protection of the animals.

With 12 million animals, Romania is the largest sheep and goat producer in the EU after Great Britain and Spain. Every year, around 2.4 million of these animals get exported. Many of them to the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region. Time and time again countless animals die in agony on these transports.

Just yesterday, December 4th, our onsite vets in Romania were able to check the rescued survivors that are currently being held on a farm. Our team are still in negotiations, fighting to ensure a safe and humane future for these sheep.


Every year more than three million live animals are transported from the EU to third countries.

This has to stop

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organization for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need, and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organization advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy, and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam, as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. 

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