Australia: Live export voyage footage released after FOI fight

Published Apr 16, 2024

Tridge summary

In 2018, distressing footage from the MV Al Shuwaikh live sheep export voyage, which saw 609 sheep die, was released after a Freedom of Information request by the RSPCA, raising significant animal welfare concerns including heat stress. Despite fears from the Australian Live Exporters' Council (ALEC) that this old footage might misrepresent the industry's current state, reforms have been made, including a Northern Hemisphere summer moratorium, reduced stocking densities, and enhanced livestock export standards. The RSPCA advocates for an end to live sheep exports, while the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) assures that such conditions are now illegal, reflecting the industry's commitment to improved welfare standards. Additionally, the article highlights a notable decrease in mortality rates during transport, with sheep mortality rates dropping from 0.71 percent to 0.18 percent, and cattle mortality rates from 0.12 percent to 0.06 percent, indicating better animal welfare outcomes in recent years.
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Original content

Fears have been raised that old footage taken aboard a live sheep vessel nearly six years ago will be used as ammunition against the trade, despite major reform having taken place since then. The footage, released in response to a Freedom of Information request by the RSPCA, comprises numerous videos taken by an independent observer aboard the MV Al Shuwaikh in 2018. During the 30-day voyage out of Fremantle to Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, 609 sheep died. RSPCA Australia CEO Richard Mussell said the FOI request was made in 2018. "This outcome should be viewed as a huge win for animal welfare and the Australian public in terms of the precedent it sets, for long-overdue transparency and access to information about the notoriously secretive live export industry," he said. "Written departmental observer reports from the voyage revealed a number of significant animal welfare concerns, including sheep suffering heat stress. "However, the Department refused to release ...
Source: Farmweekly
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