Author Topic: Veterinarians call for sheep export restrictions  (Read 725 times)

WA Export News

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Veterinarians call for sheep export restrictions
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2014, 07:57:07 PM »

 A group of vets opposed to live exports has renewed calls for the Middle East sheep trade to be suspended during the northern summer, following the deaths of more than 4,000 sheep.

The Department of Agriculture revealed this week that the sheep died aboard the Bader 3, operated by Livestock Shipping Services (LSS), during a voyage to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates last September.

Most of the sheep (44,713) were loaded in Adelaide and had been sourced from farms in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.

A further 30,795 were loaded in Fremantle.

The report found conditions in preparation for the voyage were cold, with temperatures in assembling areas in Adelaide ranging from 0 to 19 degrees, and in Fremantle from 4 to 18 degrees.

It also found the sheep assembled in Adelaide were held for an extended period because the vessel was delayed.

As the journey progressed, the temperature onboard heated up, and on day 21 of the voyage, when the most deaths happened (4,050), the vessel was in the Arabian Gulf, heading towards the port of Doha in Qatar.

Temperatures on board reached up to 38 degrees, above the 30.6 degree heat stress threshold for adult merino sheep.

Dr Sue Foster, of the Vets Against Live Export group, says heat stress deaths are inevitable in an industry which ships animals to the Middle East during the northern hemisphere's summer.

She says a study, by academic Dr Andrew Kelly in 1995, found a high incidence of heat-related deaths on shipments to the Middle East between May and August.

"We know that that's a critical time.

There's high ambient temperatures and often high humidity as well and these conditions are always going to occur and they will result in these type of events.

"The obvious solution would be, as Kelly recommended, not to actually ship during that time period."

But a spokesman for the Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says heat related deaths happen infrequently in the Arabian Gulf during summer.

A Federal Government spokesman says the deaths of thousands of sheep were distressing and regrettable, and there's an industry developed system in place that allows exporters to assess and manage the risk of deaths occurring.

President of the Sheepmeat Council, Ian McColl, says sheep producers are disappointed and concerned by the deaths, but he says the trade should be allowed to continue.

"We need to put in place as many requirements as we can to minimise that happening again and that's certainly what we'll be endeavouring to do."

The Bader 3 that loaded sheep in Adelaide was one of the few that exported sheep from South Australia last year.

A decade ago, South Australia was exporting about one million sheep a year.

In 2013, that figure was only 132,000.

Livestock SA chair Richard Halliday says despite the smaller numbers, the industry is important to maintaining sheep prices within the state.

"You could say that 4,000 sheep died on this ship on their way to a destination on the other side of the world.

We might lose more than that in fires in SA the way they are burning.

"There's always a risk in these things, but the best systems are behind them trying to make sure the mortalities are as low as possible."

The report into sheep deaths on the Bader 3, was one of nine reports, relating to live exports, released by the Department of Agriculture this week.

There were six reports relating to breaches of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) standards, with allegations of mistreatment, improper handling and unauthorised movement of animals in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Another two reports related to incidents of high mortality rates in shipments of cattle from Australia to Japan.

The Department says it's placed extra conditions on future consignments of affected exporters, including restrictions on the use of specific supply chains to reduce opportunities for livestock to exit approved facilities; increased supervision of movement of livestock through the supply chain to ensure handling standards are met; increased reporting and monitoring obligations to enable for more regular stocktaking of livestock in approved supply chains; additional security at feedlots and abattoirs to minimise the risk of theft of livestock.

By Cath McAloon
« Last Edit: January 18, 2014, 01:37:03 PM by WA Export News »