Author Topic: Editorial on the voyage from Portland and Fremantle to Turkey, June 2011  (Read 1299 times)

Export News Tasmania

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3017
  • Karma: +0/-0
Editorial on the voyage from Portland and Fremantle to Turkey, June 2011
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2012, 11:25:30 PM »
On 14 and 15 June 2011, 5,022 cattle and 2,914 sheep were loaded in Portland, Victoria. On 21 and 22 June 2011, a further 3,978 cattle and 43,596 sheep were loaded in Fremantle, Western Australia.

The exporter is believed to be Livestock Shipping Services, and the ship is believed to be the Ghena, an old vehicle transporter built in 1984 and formerly known as the Merlion Ace. Converted vehicle transporters are almost entirely enclosed, meaning the animals are trapped in the hold of the ship. As the ship travels into hotter climates, the hull heats up exponentially. [attach+#1]

Like all the live export ships, it is registered in a flag of convenience port (Panama in this case). It is reported that the Ghena will not be permitted load animals in Australia again because it no longer complies with Australian Maritime Safwty Authority regulations implemented last December.

During the voyage to Turkey, 72 deaths occurred in the Portland cattle and 29 deaths occurred in the Portland sheep, equating to mortality percentages of 1.43% and 1.0% respectively.

There were 35 deaths in the Fremantle cattle and 342 deaths in the Fremantle sheep, equating to mortality percentages of 0.88% and 0.78% respectively.

The mortality percentage of the Portland cattle exceeded the reportable level of 1.0% prescribed by the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL). The mortality percentage of the Portland sheep and the livestock loaded in Fremantle did not exceed the reportable level and are therefore not discussed further in this report.

The consignment was accompanied by an AQIS-accredited veterinarian (AAV) who reported that the main or a significant contributing cause of cattle mortality was pneumonia.

Comment

It is well-settled from years of mortality investigation reports that animals shipped from the Australian winter, particularly those shipped from southern ports, are at substantially higher risk of dying on lengthy voyages from the cold Australian winter, through the Suez Canal, and, in this case, through the Black Sea to Turkey, a period of 36 days. So well-settled is it that there is specific provision in the ASEL that:

(At S1.5A) ‘Bos taurus cattle bred in an area of Australia south of latitude 26° south must not be sourced for export to the Middle East from May to October unless an agreed livestock heat stress risk assessment indicates that the risk is manageable. [less than a 2% risk of 5% mortality]’

All these cattle were Bos Taurus cattle; Herefords, Angus etc

Given the fact that this IS well-settled, why is it that DAFF approves such voyages, in the basis that 1% of cattle and 2% of sheep dying is considered ‘acceptable’? Exporters have to provide a Consignment Risk Management Plan, which includes heat stress risk assessments. The suffering and death of these thousands of animals is simply collateral damage. No reference is made at all in the report about the suffering of the animals who survived. There is no upper limit on the time the animals can be on the ships, and voyages can take up to 41 days.

The CRMP is basically a ‘tick and flick’ document, where the exporter simply states that certain measures have been taken to comply with the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL V2.3). You can see the document here:

http://www.daff.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/1453051/livestock-noi-sea.pdf

DAFF believes what it is told, and approves the shipment.

It is noted throughout the report that the Portland cattle had long, think winter coats, and were subjected to continuous wet and cold conditions at the Portland feedlots prior to being loaded on the ship. They were also ‘liberally coated with faecal material’, according to the report.

The investigation further notes:

‘A range of factors may have contributed to the high incidence of pneumonia including:
•   Some cattle were further stressed by being trucked from one registered premises to the other, having spent some time in water-logged paddocks
•   Vaccination of cattle against bovine respiratory disease may not have been effective, because the manufacturer’s directions (two separate inoculations) were not followed. Available data does not allow conclusions to be drawn regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine whether used according to manufacturer’s directions or not.

These stressors are likely to have predisposed the cattle to pneumonia, the main cause or a significant contributing cause in the majority of diagnosed mortalities. Livestock with a compromised respiratory system were not able to tolerate hot and humid weather, particularly that between days 16 and 26’.

‘The shipboard AAV diagnosed the following causes of death:
•   24 (50%) due to pneumonia
•   10 (20.8%) due to septicaemia
•   9 (18.8%) due to inappetence (starvation)
•   4 (8.3%) due to a combination of pneumonia and inappetence (starvation)
•   1 (2.1%) due to a combination of pneumonia and septicaemia

The report shows a history of non-compliance with DAFF requirements by both the exporter and the on board ‘AQIS Accredited Veterinarian’ (who is employed and paid by the exporter).

Tellingly, it states:
‘The CRMP stated that cattle would be inoculated once with Bovilis MH®, a vaccine designed to reduce the incidence of bovine respiratory disease. According to technical information supplied by the vaccine manufacturer, two doses of the vaccine, three to four weeks apart are required for the vaccine to be effective.

Twenty-one cattle of the 1,124 head that were prepared in registered premises A, and that were vaccinated twice with Bovillis-MH®, died during the voyage, a mortality rate of 1.83%. Fifty-one of the remaining 3,877 cattle that were vaccinated once with Bovillis-MH died during the voyage, a mortality rate of 1.32%.

The exporter subsequently stated their belief that a single inoculation of Bovilis MH® is more effective than the manufacturer’s instruction of two inoculations, but was unable to provide scientific evidence that a single dose of the vaccine provides protection against respiratory disease.
In most states and territories, it is an offence against the relevant legislation that regulates the use of veterinary medicines, to use the product contrary to manufacturer’s directions (so-called ‘off-label’ use). A veterinary surgeon may prescribe ‘off-label’ use for a single animal only’.

Weather during the voyage
‘The wet bulb temperature approached or exceeded the HST between days 16 and 25. Figures 1 and 3 clearly show a correlation between increased cattle deaths and HST, starting from around day 19.

‘Livestock with a compromised respiratory system were not able to tolerate hot and humid weather particularly that experienced between days 16 and 26’.

(‘The heat stress threshold (HST) is the maximum ambient wet bulb temperature at which an animal can control its deep body temperature using normal physiological mechanisms of heat loss, such as panting, sweating, and shunting blood to large skin areas such as the ears. The estimated HST is 30 ¿C for adult Bos taurus cattle’).

Conclusions

‘Record keeping by the shipboard AAV was inadequate. As stated in section 2, the exporter was unable to provide detailed information about any treatments administered to any of the livestock during the voyage, because the shipboard AAV did not keep such records. The exporter was not able to specifically identify which animals died due to each cause.

Whilst the record keeping by the shipboard AAV was inadequate, there is no information to suggest that he did not properly perform his other duties of monitoring the health and welfare of the consignment as well as promptly treating or euthanasing sick or injured livestock.
There is no information to suggest that the accredited stockmen did not properly perform their duties’.
‘The lack of a detailed treatment history for the cattle has hindered the analysis and the ability to draw specific conclusions. However what can be drawn from the analysis is as follows:

•   The cattle are likely to have been stressed by continuous cold, wet weather while in pre-export quarantine. Some cattle were further stressed by being trucked from one registered premises to the other, having spent some time in water-logged paddocks. These stressors are likely to have predisposed the cattle to pneumonia, the main cause or a significant contributing cause in the majority of diagnosed mortalities.

•   Vaccination of cattle against bovine respiratory disease may not have been effective, because the manufacturer’s directions (two inoculations) were not followed.

In short, no-one seems to know which animals died from what cause.

What is DAFF going to do about this horror voyage?
DAFF

‘Record-keeping is a requirement for continuing registration for a veterinarian, and although s.4A.14(1)(a) of the Export Control (Animals) Order 2004 requires AAVs to keep records of individual animal treatments.

DAFF will work with industry to improve daily report templates’.

Recommendations
As a result of the investigation, it is recommended the following actions be initiated by DAFF:
1.   Reinforce to AAVs the requirement of s.4A.14(1)(a) of the Export Control (Animals) Order 2004 that they maintain detailed records of all treatments administered to cattle during a voyage, so that treated animals are identified and subsequently tracked from the property of origin, through the preparation period and voyage until discharge.

2.   Require AAVs to submit the following information to DAFF as an attachment to the End of Voyage Report:
The Animal ID, Location/Deck/Pen/Date of Treatment(s) administered, Drug Dose and Outcome, Reason for Treatment, and outcome. Dead animals are to be identified with the post-mortem findings and cause(s) of death.

3.   Provide the outcomes of this investigation into the MLA / LiveCorp Export Research and Development Program research project titled W.LIV.0252: ‘Investigating cattle morbidity and mortality to the Middle East.’
This project includes standardised post mortem techniques as well as collection and return to Australia of samples from cattle so that a definitive diagnosis can be made.

4.   To establish if any potential breaches have occurred, audit the operations manual of the exporter, with particular reference to:
o   livestock selection
o   livestock identification
o   onboard management.

5.   To establish if any potential breaches have occurred, audit the shipboard AAV, with particular reference to record-keeping on this voyage and three subsequent voyages.

6.   To establish if any potential breaches have occurred, audit other shipboard AAVs contracted by this exporter, with particular reference to record-keeping on three subsequent voyages.

7.   To establish if any potential breaches have occurred, audit the registered premises with particular reference to:
o   suitability of certain paddocks during prolonged wet weather
o   the connections between registered premises A and registered premises B to determine whether animals may be legitimately transferred between them.

8.   DAFF should refer the matter of the AAV’s record-keeping to DAFF Investigations and Enforcement to assess whether there are grounds to issue a brief to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) concerning compliance with s.4A.14(1)(a) of the Export Control (Animals) Order 2004.

9.   When assessing CRMPs, disregard any proposed use of a registered veterinary medicine for the purposes of risk mitigation inconsistent with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Comment: Since this voyage completed about 21 months ago, it seems safe for us to assume that no action has been taken against the exporter or the AAV. It is also clear that exporters will continue these lengthy, high-risk voyages for as long as they can get away with them, with the full complicity of DAFF and the Federal Government.

Please read the full report at this link:

http://www.daff.gov.au/aqis/export/live-animals/livestock/aqis-mortality-investigations/report-39
« Last Edit: April 04, 2012, 11:56:43 PM by WA Export News »