The Agriculture Department has suggested it will block a 64,000 sheep shipment from leaving the port of Fremantle as the company that exports the livestock deals with animal welfare abuse allegations.
This news comes not long after footage was released by Animals Australia showing the deaths of nearly 2,500 sheep while being transported to the Middle East last year. The footage is described as showing overcrowded pens, severe lack of food and water as well as many dead sheep left to rot on the ships’ decks.
The footage, shown to Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, prompted him to give a response that said he was “shocked” as well as “gutted” by the conditions the animals were being transported in. Despite the outrage around the video, the Agriculture Department has said that it will not take any reactionary policy measures as a result.
The company that was responsible for the shipment in the video, Emanuel Exports, has another ship due to leave on Monday from Fremantle.
The Agriculture Department has sent a letter to Emanuel Exports that demands the transport ship stay docked until it meets the guidelines for animal welfare.
Narelle Clegg, a secretary at the Agriculture Department Export Division, said that she was concerned the ship was “too heavily stocked on previous voyages”. She went on to say that the overcrowding of the ship had “led to adverse animal welfare outcomes”.
Ms Clegg also said that Emanuel Exports would be required to prove that it has plans in motion for properly trained crews and veterinarians to board the ship and ensure the wellbeing of all the livestock. This includes making sure the animals are fed and watered throughout their voyage.
The ship will also be required to meet standards set in place the AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authroity). There is also an additional AMSA test to determine if the vessel can transport livestock.
The additional AMSA test was already planned prior to Mr Littleproud’s statement regarding the leaked footage.
The incident seen in the controversial footage has refuelled the debate surrounding the ethics of live exporting livestock. The Australian government has dismissed the many calls for the practise to be banned altogether.
The Labor party have demanded that there be stricter regulations and harsher penalties for companies and individuals involved in scandalous cases of live export abuse.