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Deal or no deal, transferring animals will change

21 March 2019, at 9:30a.m.

What impact will Brexit have on the movement of animals to and from EU countries?

From blue passports to increased costs of that French cheese you like, Brexit’s effects will be far and wide. One element that has not had so much mainstream press coverage is the potential impact on the transport of animals.

From pets and livestock to pandas and lemurs, the UK undertakes a large volume of imports and exports to and from other EU countries each year. In 2016, livestock exports alone, excluding poultry, accounted for over half a million animals crossing the border to mainland Europe. Thousands of pet owners will have taken their pets under the pet passport scheme.

Zoos also undertake animal transportation for several different reasons – a key one being contributions to breeding programmes. Animals that are part of a breeding programme are often moved to other collections to maintain the genetic and demographic viability of captive populations.

Many of these breeding programmes are for endangered species and they are often coordinated by individuals from across Europe as part of the work of the European Zoo and Aquaria Association.

At the time of writing, there is no formalised agreement of how the UK will leave the EU, potentially resulting in a no-deal Brexit. This would mean that from 29 March 2019, the UK would be classed as a third country for animal transport considerations: the same classification as other non-EU countries such as the USA and Australia.

This will result in a large-scale change in the way that all animals are transported from the UK to the EU, but its changes to the transportation of zoo species may be the most significant.

Defra has produced 106 technical notes on how processes will change if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, including several on animal transportation and trade. The information below is based on these technical notes and the writer’s professional experience.

Currently, most commercial animal transports from the UK to the EU must be registered under the Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES). TRACES is managed by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health
and Consumer Protection
and facilitates the generation of the necessary documentation, as well as sending copies to the appropriate authorities at the exporting and importing countries – all of which saves traders time.

TRACES can create intra-trade animal health certificates (ITAHCS), common veterinary entry documents (CVEDs) and more. As TRACES is an EU-managed facility, the UK’s departure from the EU, whether with a deal or not, will change the status of the UK to that of a third country and therefore render TRACES ITAHCS null and void, and will require the creation of a UK-specific trade
application system.

Defra has declared that it is creating a new system: IMS. Its implementation and roll-out will require some time, which could increase waiting times for certificates and extend the whole application process.

Another major consideration for zoos will be the transfer of CITES listed specimens. Under current EU law, the transfer of CITES Annexes B to D do not require any additional paperwork; only Annex A specimens require certification. Under a no-deal circumstance, all CITES listed specimens (A to D) will require certification.

The certification required will also change: from Article 10 certificates to the import- and export-based certificates currently utilised when dealing with non-EU countries. This change will necessitate further planning of transfers and cause longer waiting times.

The route in which an animal enters the country, through a Border Inspection Post (BIP), will also change. Currently, the vast majority of species can enter through most ports, but Defra has declared that Dover, Holyhead and the Eurotunnel will not be CITES designated points of entry or exit. Routes routinely taken by animal transporters will have to be rerouted, resulting in potentially longer journey times as well as increased transport costs.

Given the uncertainty of the current deal situation and with Defra releasing the no-deal guidance, businesses are having to prepare for these scenarios.

Whilst many zoos within the UK will continue to be part of the European Zoo and Aquaria Association and remain involved in the breeding programmes, the increased paperwork will mean more time is required to plan and apply for all the relevant permissions.

Instances where species are short-lived or have quick generation times may pose problematic; overall, it will make it harder for the UK to cooperate with other European zoos in achieving their goals of saving species.