Don’t take foot and mouth abroad

The recent outbreak of foot and mouth in deepest Surrey might seem a long way from the sea and nothing much to concern us, but this is wrong. We hear about the restrictions on the movement of livestock, but restrictions extend much wider, and they do apply to us. We are not personally prevented from travelling overseas, but during an outbreak and for three months afterwards it is illegal to take abroad certain meat and dairy products and in addition some countries apply further restrictions in addition to the UK ones.

The UK restrictions, by and large, are quite understandable and easily accepted: we must not take out of the country (ie beyond the twelve mile territorial limit) any meat or meat products from ‘biungulate’ animals. These are cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, deer, even llamas. Thus a ham sandwich or meat stew,the basic provender for night watches, cannot be taken on overseas passages during an outbreak of the disease. Even a bottle of fresh milk is forbidden and of course sausages and bacon are right out.

Those sailing abroad have been reminded of the current restrictions by notices on the routine Coastguard maritime safety broadcasts and also of the requirement to carry their waste back to these shores, unless acceptable arrangements can be made to offload it. When I consider the size of the bag of refuse I had to carry home after just three days without being able to dump it(and it was not all beer cans and wine bottles),the idea of collecting two week’s rubbish is daunting.

A few countries overseas are actively checking for what UK sailors are importing to their countries. Some do this permanently even if a foot and mouth outbreak is not happening – Australia is notorious for making it a crime for yachts to bring in even tinned meat. Others have rules requiring that the meat was produced more than two months earlier, and has a certificate to prove it, then to import is OK. Your ham sandwich will probably swim ashore if it is that old. Hopefully by the time that this season starts the current episode will be over, but if you are proposing to do any winter passages then it would be wise to check what is permitted with the UK consulates of the countries you propose to visit.

from Cruising, Feb, 2008