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Stakeholder technical meeting on Animal Welfare during Transport

On October 13th, EFSA held a Technical Meeting with its stakeholders to exchange views on questions related to the welfare of animals during transport.

The European Commission requested EFSA to assess most recent scientific information available on the welfare of animals during transport of main farm species (horses, pigs, sheep, goats, cattle, poultry and rabbits). Risks for the welfare of the transported animals should presented according to Annex 1 of the Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 (fitness for transport, means of transport, transport practices, watering and feeding interval, journey times and resting periods, additional provisions for long journeys, space allowance). It is also requested that outcome-based welfare indicators (i.e. based on the observations of the animals) which can be used by transporters and veterinary inspectors under commercial conditions be included in the opinion of the Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) Panel.

A total of 25 delegates representing 22 organisations, including transport industry, livestock breeders, and animal welfare NGOs, attended the meeting. The meeting started with a presentation of EFSA remits and activities of the AHAW Panel, by the Head of the Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) Unit. A representative of the Animal Welfare Unit (DG Sanco, D5) presented the Mandate on the welfare of animals during transport. The Chair of the AHAW Panel Working Group on the welfare of animals during transport presented the approach followed to answer the specific Terms of Reference. Discussions were then held on the mandate from the Commission and the AHAW approach to address it. The afternoon session was an opportunity for participants to present new evidence and scientific and technical data on the issue of welfare of animals during transport. Six presentations were given. Presentations were followed by discussion with the floor.

The Technical Meeting enabled open discussion with all interested parties and stakeholders. It was concluded that different levels of implementation and enforcement of Regulation 1/2005 occur within the EU Member States. The meeting also recognised that this issue falls outside the remits of EFSA. The discussions clarified that the AHAW Scientific Opinion will concentrate on new evidence (since 2004), related to Annex I of Regulation 1/2005. Animal-based measurable indicators which may be used in practice for veterinarians and inspectors should be also developed. The meeting highlighted that stakeholders may have information and data relevant to the question; EFSA called for such information and data being submitted for further review and assessment. Whenever new scientific evidence is found, recommendations on possible changes of Regulation 1/2005 shall be drawn based on risk assessment performed. This will be included in the Scientific Opinion to be adopted by the AHAW Panel.

EFSA informed that the draft Scientific Opinion on Animal Welfare during Transport will be submitted to the AHAW Panel for discussion at the October plenary meeting.