Suez Canal blocked: The Link from Europe to Asia cut off. About 200 Ships are stuck

The Suez Canal blockage since March 23 is affecting India’s shipping lines. As there are 200 vessels stuck in the north and south side of the canal, the number at the current rate is likely to go up to 350 in the next few days.

Of all the millions of tons of cargo that are piled up in the Suez Canal due to the blockage, none is more delicate than the animals being transported in the hulls of several of the ships. Little information is available, with neither canal officials nor shipping executives willing to give information, but data compiled by Bloomberg indicate as many as 10 vessels stuck in and around the canal could be carrying livestock. Given the Europe-to-Saudi Arabia route plan, they are most likely carrying sheep.

Cattle can also be transported by sea, and ships would generally have at least two or three days’ worth of extra hay or feed on board, said Bob Bishop, president of the Livestock Exporters Association of the USA. If the feed runs out, they could get more from a port while refueling. A ship that can’t get to dock could get feed from a barge in what’s known as “midstream loading,” he said.

Vessels that crowd thousands of sheep and longer journeys raise the risk of disease and stress, said Stevenson of the animal welfare group. Some ships used to transport animals also have been converted for other purposes and aren’t ideally suited, he said. It can be difficult to reverse course after departure due to health rules.

The Middle Eastern nation is the world’s largest sheep importer by a wide margin, United Nations data shows. But the trade route has faced disaster at times. About 14,000 sheep being shipped from Romania to Saudi Arabia were killed when a vessel partly capsized in 2019, according to media reports at the time. Rescuers were only able to save a a little over 200 animals.

While much of the waylaid cargo is commodity products such as oil that can be stored on ships for long periods, livestock need food and water, and such deliveries usually carry only enough for a few extra days. That could create a critical situation for ships to find feed supplies at a local port, or force them to turn around. Dislodging the vessel blocking the canal may take at least a week, longer than initially feared, people familiar with the matter said.

Overall the situation on the Suez is quite dire with people losing huge capital and many who will lose livestock if the situation persists. The Egyptian Government and all other concerned parties are trying their best to solve the current crisis and to alleviate the problems of the cargo ships.

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