Live export ban exemption refused for livestock vessel Al Kuwait

Live export ban exemption refused for livestock vessel Al Kuwait

The Australian Department of Agriculture has refused to grant an exception for Rural Export and Trading (WA) to export live sheep to the Middle East.

The livestock vessel Al Kuwait, currently docked in Fremantle, has been 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.

The exporter applied for an exemption from the 1 June deadline, but the Federal Department of Agriculture has refused to grant the company one. This means the $12 million shipment will remain in Australia.

"Following consideration of all relevant matters under the legislation, including animal welfare and trade implications, the department has taken the decision not to grant an exemption to the exporter," says the Department of Agriculture.

"The livestock that was to be exported in this consignment remain at registered premises and the department is satisfied there are no welfare concerns."

Animals Australia director of strategy Lyn White says the Government's decision is a major win for the 56,000 sheep that will not be subjected to the "blistering heat of the Middle East summer".

"A decision to allow this shipment would not only have subjected animals to extreme and extended suffering, it would also have required an exemption to new laws that prohibit dangerous summer shipments," says White.

"Over the last week, we worked every angle and played every strategic card we could to present the strongest possible case to prevent these sheep from being exported. From legal avenues, close consultation and advice to the Department of Agriculture, and media coverage. But perhaps most critical of all was the analysis we instigated from an expert climatologist that warned, if the ship set sail, it would be sending animals directly into the 'danger zone' for heat stress.

"The live export industry has been sent a very strong message: they are no longer above the law. They can no longer expect to 'call the shots'."

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