Approximately 50,000 live sheep will be transported to the Middle East by ship after a legal challenge from Animals Australia failed to have an exemption overturned.
Animal rights organisation Animals Australia launched Federal Court proceedings against the Department of Agriculture yesterday after an exemption was granted to export livestock to the Middle East.
However that legal challenge has failed, meaning the Al Kuwait will depart from Fremantle and sail to the Middle East in the middle of northern hemisphere summer stacked with 50,000 heads of livestock.
"It would be easy to blame the regulator or the government or the exporter but their actions are based on and influenced by one underlying factor a legal system that denies animals raised for food the same compassion, moral consideration and legal protection as other animals in human care," says Animals Australia director of strategy Lyn White.
"As a result, vulnerable beings who feel fear and pain are decreed property, items to trade, lives to be bought and bartered, warm bodies to be brutalised.
"This cannot be allowed to continue. For when profits have the power to impair our compassion it is not only animals who suffer, our own humanity is violated and diminished."
At the beginning of June, the Australian Department of Agriculture refused to grant an exemption for Rural Export and Trading to export live sheep to the Middle East.
The vessel in question, Al Kuwait, was unable to depart Australia before 1 June as planned after 19 crew members tested positive for COVID-19.
As a result, the ship missed the deadline for exporting livestock out of Australia to the Middle East.
Under current legislation the Federal Government bans all live export out of Australia into the Middle East during the region's summer because of the harm that animals suffer under in the hot conditions.
That particular piece of legislation was enacted following the disastrous Awassi Express voyage during which thousands of sheep died on board from heat stress en route to the Middle East.
However, following a second attempt at securing an exemption from the Federal Government, the Department of Agriculture gave the Al Kuwait the green light to set sail to the Middle East on 13 June.
The Department's deputy secretary David Hazelhurst said the exemption was granted to uphold Australia's trade relations and because of the "exceptional circumstances resulting from the global pandemic".
The exemption from the Department of Agriculture requires the operator of the voyage, Rural Export and Trading, to abide by strict measures intended to protect the health and welfare of the sheep on board including:
- Utilising the livestock vessel the Al Kuwait, a purpose built livestock carrier
- Unloading at one port only
- Not loading an area of the vessel known to be hotter due to engine room location
- Limiting the weight of the sheep loaded on the vessel, focussing on those sheep most well adapted to tolerating heat
- Providing additional pen area over that currently required on any livestock voyage and which exceeds those required under the updated Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock
- Requiring loading to cease by midnight on 17 June 2020
An Australian Government accredited veterinarian will also be on board the Al Kuwait, and additional reporting requirements have been placed on the exporter.
Business News Australia
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