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Screaming pigs in Hanko harbour prompt protest

Some 50 people took part in a demonstration in Hanko over the weekend, protesting how pigs are being treated as they are exported to Poland from the southern harbour town.

Mielenosoitus Hangossa
Animal rights activist speaks at demonstration in Hanko on Saturday. Image: Yle

On Saturday around 50 animal rights activists demonstrated in Hanko about how pigs - particularly those headed for export to Poland from the port town in southern Finland - are being poorly treated.

About a month ago animal rights activist Marko Niemi went to the harbour to check out reports of the sound of screaming pigs coming from long-haul trucking containers.

"I'd heard that locals said there were screaming pigs at the harbour so I went to check it out. They were next to the fence and screamed in pain. It was heartbreaking," Niemi told Yle Svenska.

Niemi posted photos and video clips of the pigs on his Facebook page. He said he thinks it's important that the public knows how animals are being treated.

Protester: Ongoing problems at harbour

One of the participants in the protest, Hanko resident Marina Nordlund, said the transports are scandalous and should be stopped.

"These problems were discussed three years ago," Nordlund said. "At the time the pig farmers said it was just a one-off due to overproduction, but now we're here again," she said, saying that she has also been to the harbour and watched as pigs were reloaded onto Polish lorries.

"It was the middle of winter," she said. "The Finnish lorries were warm but the Polish ones had their vents open. I was freezing in my winter coat, so it must have been a horrible experience for the pigs," Nordlund said.

Last spring Yle reported that HK Scan, the meat manufacturing company in charge of delivering the pigs for export, had vastly increased the number swine it was sending to Poland.

As of May 2016, the company was exporting a reported 6,000 piglets per month to Poland.

Additionally, earlier reports showed that livestock officials weren't keeping a very close eye on the transports, and that it took longer than 24 hours to get the pigs from Finland to Poland - which is reportedly in the upper limits of EU livestock guidelines.

Updated 19.9. at 11:40 am: Photo has been changed. The original picture was a file photo of Hanko harbour with Transfennica boat, which is unrelated to the news story.

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