See EAN 2020/04.
The Dept of Ag sent out an advisory notice today on stockpersons and AAVs. Surprise surprise, they are hard to come by in COVID times. AAVs still required ....at the moment....and that seems untouchable...at the moment (though However, any old stockperson, accredited or not, whom the export wants to nominate will now be fine for the job. Maybe this is no worse than a 4 day accreditation course ....but.....will it end up just being a sailor...? Someone who is stuck on the ship anyway? Who knows.
See EAN 2020/04.
Against the advice of the Asutralian Maritime Safety Authority, our Australian Government, courtesy of Michael McCormack, has granted an exemption to allow the Al Shuwaikh, a 34yo live export ship to carry sheep to the Middle East despite the ship failing ventilation requirements.
The new rules prohibiting livestock from being transported on double-decked tiers.came into force on 31 December. Industry was given plenty of warning and other exporters took out their double tiers....but KLTT are exempt.
And yep, this exemption was granted in the same week as NSPCA has lodged an urgent application to their High Court to interdict the impending export by sea of live sheep to Kuwait (See: https://nspca.co.za/news/live-export-nspca-launches-urgent-application-to-the-high-court-gerrie-nel-taking-lead/ ). And the NSPCA has Gerrie Nel (think Oscar Pistorius trial) as their advocate.
One wonders what Gerrie Nel would make of the Australian government flouting their own department's advice.........see: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-38813552
For a detailed article on the double exemption, see www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/feb/25/michael-mccormack-grants-exemption-to-live-export-ship-that-fails-new-rules
For a detailed article on the South African court application see: https://maritime-executive.com/article/nspca-heads-to-court-over-live-export-to-kuwait
Australia prides itself on animal welfare....but the rules change once one goes over the 26th parallel.....eg think of ASEL's lack of bedding requirements on live ex boats that carry stock from above the 26th parallel. For anyone used to the northern pastoral industry, the footage shown to Israeli audiences this week would be regarded as "the norm". This was aptly summed up by the pragmatic Australian stockie: "its about numbers".....not animals!
And therein lies the problem. While the livestock industries constantly pat themselves on the back, they forget that those not blinkered by "the norm" do not. These "normal" images are so confronting to another 1st world nation, that that nation is reconsidering its import of live Australian animals. Astoundingly, they think the government will find these practices cruel and address them .....ho hum.....its outback Australia and anything is fine there...animals there dont have sentience...and they certainly dont have animal welfare protection. So.....watch out live ex....The Israelis now know how we treat our animals on land...and they have indicated in no uncertain terms, that this raises even more doubt about what happens out of sight on the seas.
See: LETTER SENT FROM AN ISRAEL KNESSET MEMBER TO THE AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR
Not such a good year for KLTT and its partners. In November, live export company Emanuel Exports and two of its former directors have pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges stemming from a voyage to the Middle East on which about 2400 sheep died. Now formal charges have been laid against Al Mawashi (KLTT) in South Africa. The charges relate to carrying of animals in such conditions that cause them unnecessary suffering (under terms of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962).
According to NSPCA, the charges were laid against the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) as well as Eastern Cape Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Al Mawashi (the company shipping the sheep on the livestock carrier Al Shuwaikh which has a company in South Africa), the captain of the Al Shuwaikh, the Page Farming Trust and individuals from the Page Farming Trust.
The NSPCA claims that conditions on board the Al Shuwaikh included dangerously high ammonia levels on some of the enclosed decks, dirty conditions including feces in the food and water troughs, and other welfare concerns. A far cry it would seem from the pristine footage from the same ship from Dr Holly Ludeman and her sidekicks. Dr Peta Lewis in one video states that "the crew really cares" so it is interesting that the NSPCA claim to have such a different experience and that they have also laid charges against the Al Shuwaikh captain....who was almost certainly the same as that in the Australian industry footage.
Now where were we on "black swans"????
- KLTT owns the Al Messilah and the Al Shuwaikh, two of the main ships used by Emanuels
- KLTT operates in Kuwait and South Africa as Al Mawashi
- RETWA is the Australian subsidiary of KLTT
- in 2003, Mr Graham Daws was Managing Director of RETWA when its licence was suspended by DAFF due to four high mortality shipments...
- during the RETWA suspension, Mr Daws was able to continue to export animals under an export licence held by Emanuel Exports Pty Ltd...a licence now cancelled with its directors charged.
Whilst the drowning of >14000 sheep from Romania is an absolute disaster that would have been avoided had shipboard live export not occurred, its aftermath is encouraging. An article from Maritime Executive indicates that there has been outrage in Romania from the producers themselves, describing the animals as "innocent souls": "If we are not able to protect animals during long distance transport, at least we have a backbone to prohibit them.” These farmers from a poor country seem to have shown far more compassion than the WA farmers (...oh yeah the Awassi was bad but live ex must go on...etc etc... and it shouldnt be banned across the northern summer just because it is a bit hot in the Middle East eg https://www.farmweekly.com.au/story/6396642/no-surprises-as-live-ex-vessel-goes-elsewhere/ amongst many others in a similar vein).
So, yes, as predicted, it appears some exporter has turned to Romania....but who knows Mr Seabrook....maybe Romanian farmers will show the compassion and animal welfare concerns that WA farmers havent....and if they dont....lets hope EU is more responsible than Australia.
WARNING GRAPHIC FOOTAGE
A live export ship with 14600 sheep to be exported sank today in the Romanian port of Midia Năvodari. The Queen Hind, a ship built in 1980 overturned on one side.
No sailors died but doubt there are any sheep left alive...
The Jawan narrowly avoided this fate leaving Australia earlier this year...and another carrier ran aground in South America (with cattle only saved due to help from an Australian veterinarian). This is one of the risks that live animals face on these ships.....especially on older ships.
So the question is....will the EU realise the unique and inherently risky nature of the trade and act?? And....as for Australia, a near miss should surely be one of the "black swans" for the industry.
At the recent LIVEXchange conference in Townsville it was all upbeat about industry's new approach to animal welfare. The gob-smackingly awful "Sheep Collective" was praised...well it was lovely to see bedding for the sheep on the ships in Freo for the invited onboard visits ...despite the fact that everyone who knows anything about live ex knows that sheep bedding is not and never will be routine.
But, one medico had an interesting take urging industry to continually look for “black swans”. In medicine and in risk management, black swans are code for “things you can’t see”, Dr Harrison explained – unexpected events whose potential to occur only becomes apparent after they have happened.
“Do you have people who have nothing to do with your industry on your board?” Dr Harrison said. “They are going to be the ones to spot black swans.”
“It has taken our industry, medicine, 30 years, but I don’t think you have 30 years...It is clear you’re changing but you’ve got to get on with it and you need to answer to independent experts.
Hmm....well they could always ask VALE. We get to see and hear a lot of hidden things.....and yeah, there are still plenty of black swans.
Dehumidifiers on live animal export ships wont work.....no surprise. The Tatura Guardian reports that the study found dehumidifiers reduced temperatures and humidity on an empty ship, but were not good enough to help when vessels were filled with sheep....
Nationals senator and veterinarian, Sam McMahon was scathing "It would seem that for $2 million, that could have involved some actual research with some livestock to answer those questions," she said.
"It's kind of like sailing an empty ship to the Middle East and saying we achieved zero mortalities."
There is also reportedly a four-year $700,000 research project developing animal welfare indicators for live animal exports, due to finish in 2021. Senator McMahon criticised the project, saying two years without a single report wasn't good value for money.
"The information that comes out is not worth a cracker if it doesn't stand up to scientific scrutiny," she said. "If it's not published, then there's nothing to indicate there's any value in what came out of the research."
It may be worthwhile Dr McMahon requesting a full list of MLA funded livestock studies to assess just how many have resulted in peer-reviewed scientific studies.
Instead of acknowledging issues and addressing them, the industry has gone into over-drive on its spin campaign (see video). Depending on one's perspective, this could be viewed as desperately pathetic or totally hilarious.....
We have film producers who are now animal welfare experts: “coming from the outside we could really tell whether the industry was being cruel or whether actually animal welfare was at the centre of every thing they said it was” … hmmm ...for starters, what about that hindlimb lameness on the sheep filmed on the loading ramp?....[check the 1 minute 11 second mark]
We have the industry vet stating that is is "all about marketing and media" and that they have "demonstrated through great story telling" that we can change the narrative. And on it goes...
Of course the "story" has unravelled somewhat in South Africa with the clear animal welfare abuse documented on the Al Shuwaikh....yep, the vessel shown in The Sheep Collective's storytelling.
Note: RETWA is the Australian subsidiary of Livestock
Transport and Trading Company. LTTCo operates in Kuwait as Al Mawashi Reference: RETWA Media Release
See: NSPCA to lay charges over inhumane export of sheep to middle east
The Countryman reports that the agriculture analyst Mercado has produced a live export report, (Do We Need A Long Moratorium?) that found a three-month trade pause might not deliver more benefits than a one-month shipping standstill.
Well isnt that relief.....a financial analyst that can assess animal welfare!
...or can they? Bottom line is that it all comes down to assessment of welfare by mortality and the reduced stocking densities led lower than average mortality rates.
So, a seasoned AAV, Mike McCarthy advises the government that animal welfare cant be assessed by mortality alone, nearly every independent observer report on ME voyages describes features of prolonged heat stress but its all fine because they can suffer without dying.
ANIMAL MORTALITY is a measure of EXTREME animal welfare issues not a measure of acceptability.