Jan 28th 2016
VALE opposes industry proposal to dilute regulation of animal welfare standards in live export
Open letter from Vets Against Live Export (VALE) to Alison Penfold, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Livestock Exporters Council (ALEC), PO Box 5552, Kingston ACT 2604
Dear Ms Penfold,
I write on behalf of Vets Against Live Export (VALE) concerning proposals by the live export industry to change the standards governing the welfare of animals exported from Australia (Livestock Global Assurance Program; LGAP). You have expressed the opinion that you would welcome a submission on this matter from VALE.
As a preliminary matter, we note that the form which you have posted on the relevant website is entirely prescriptive, requiring comment on defined paragraphs of LGAP. VALE is not interested in making a submission in this prescriptive fashion.
The substantive point, so far as VALE is concerned, is that it is a fundamental principle of animal welfare that animals used for food should be slaughtered as close to their source as possible. Live export of animals from Australia is inconsistent with this principle, particularly where animals are transported aboard ships for long durations, in overcrowded conditions, exposed to extremes of weather and other conditions inconsistent with maintenance of good animal welfare.
It is equally evident that live export is also unacceptable to the Australian public because of the treatment of animals in overseas destinations. Consistent with this view, our recent survey, conducted as an independent poll by UMR Strategic Research, demonstrates that the majority of people polled want to see live export stopped. In our opinion, seeking to improve the treatment of animals in importing countries which have no culture of animal welfare is nothing more than an unrealistic aspiration.
We know that Australian animals continue to suffer unacceptably both on live export voyages and during transport and slaughter in overseas countries.
We regard your present proposal to put regulation of welfare into the hands of the owners and operators of overseas facilities as nothing more than a cynical exercise by those who stand to profit from this unacceptable and unethical trade. The intention is clearly to make life easier and more profitable for those with a vested interest. VALE does not support such a proposal.
Dr Sue Foster BVSc MVetClinStud FANZCVS
[Fantastic…..now we are transporting cattle >600kg sourced from below 26 degree latitude to ports above 26 degree latitude, in January, with no bedding. YEP ASEL was never meant for this so its all legal….but lets look and see whether it is OK…..MLA publications and industry say NO.
So here we go, we leave the reader to judge whether it is OK when industry itself has so clearly has stated its not:
ASEL Appendix 4.3 Provision of bedding 4.3.1 Cattle and buffalo
(1) Cattle and buffalo exported on voyages of 10 days or more must be provided with sawdust, rice hulls or similar material to be used exclusively for bedding at a rate of at least 7 t or 25 m3 for every 1000 m2 of cattle pen space.
(2) This does not apply to cattle and buffalo loaded from Brisbane or a port north of latitude 26° south and exported to Southeast Asia or Japan.
MLA LIVE.124 Fit to Export Guide” 2006, “livemass; 200 – 500 kg if bred south of 26 degrees south and exported from May to October. 200 – 650 kg if bred elsewhere” [NOTE comment was removed in the 2007 version]
MLA LIVE.102 & SBMR.003: Best practice standards for the preparation & husbandry of cattle for transport from Australia” 3.1.4.(iv) “Animals over 500 kg live weight or with a fat cover of 20 mm at the P8 site should not be selected for export [Yep that's was Ross Ainsworth and AAV Mike McCarthy]
MLA W.LIV.0254 Management of Bedding during the Livestock Export Process: “It was commonly reported to the authors that heavy cattle (over 380 kg) will, depending on the surface of the pen floor and the stability of the ship, incur more leg injuries than other cattle.”
ASEL REVIEW AAV submission : “Overweight animals are at a higher risk of this type of injury [hoof deck syndrome]and subsequent death than animals below 500kg."
Anyhow, guess all that matter is that ASEL approves heavy cattle to travel in unstable hard-floored multi-story carparks - we must have the best animal welfare standards in the world....!!!
Answer 1: not us. Answer 2: not Beef Central either. Beef Central reports that the SE Asian live export trade is now taking cattle out of Sth Qld and N NSW feedlots "in direct competition" with grainfed processors.
Ho hum....so much for exporting only animals with no access to domestic markets.
Just check the photo in June 2015.....
And then fast forward to Jan 2016....Ocean Outback failed in Aust, Ocean Swaggie failed in South America.
Same engine manufacturer for both.
Wonder if they were planning to slaughter the offloaded Ocean Outback sheep at Beaufort River Meats Abattoir - also had a few problems.
Gee who'd have shares in Wellard?
Sheep from the Ocean Outback will soon be coming back into Australia for slaughter....which is a blessing for animal welfare.
However, just as with the Al Messilah incident in 2011, it is important to note that this trade, and its disasters, threatens Australian livestock production. Whilst the export ships are disinfected prior to returning to Australia, disinfection can never be perfect when there are surfaces that will accumulate organic matter. Thus to unload Australian animals from these vessels which have transported foreign animals (eg Ocean Swagman is in South America at the moment.....foot and mouth disease?), risks introducing exotic diseases into Australia. Wonder how the average Australian farmer will feel if the live ex trade introduces an exotic disease that wipes out their livelihood.
Is the Ocean Outback incident a model for phasing out the sheep trade?
We just load the sheep on so that they can see the old draconian practice, and then unload them for onshore slaughter...so they can be grateful.
Not really efficient but does provide much more work for Australians, especially wharfies, truck drivers, feedlot staff and our own qualified meat processors. Finally some value adding...
Well, it was always a longshot.
Otway has sold the consigment to someone else....and the new owners dont want VALE onboard...what a surprise.
So....yep, will all be up to those independent shipboard vets now....oh and the government (because they are so independent).
And bad luck VALE re the wasted flight bookings! Perhaps ALEC would like to contribute....!
BUT...the real issue is....the animals...oh thats ok, they are merely a saleable commodity.
Dear Mr Schmidt,
In September 2015, you made an invitation to VALE:
"At any time that VALE would like professional and accurate data regarding any of our voyages, they simply have to ask.
Alan Schmidt - Managing Director Otway Livestock Exports."
In light of that offer, VALE would like to ask that one of our experienced representatives be allowed to perform a veterinary inspection of the loaded Ocean Outback.
If this is not possible, could you please let us know:
a) if any washdowns of the cattle decks have been undertaken?
b) are ammonia concentrations being monitored?
c) what is happening with carcasses?
We would contact you directly but an email address and phone contact have not been provided to us.
So the engines cant be repaired on the Ocean Outback and it is now at least 9-10 days onboard for all those animals. Wellard, in their statements have assured everyone of the excellent animal welfare......food, ventilation etc.....but how about the deck cleaning? Washing out the cattle is not possible in port.....and it is unlikely that the stricken vessel will have been taken out to sea to do a washdown when repairs the priority.
So.....lets just think about it.....plenty of warm days in the last week, plenty of faeces.....these cattle must be knee deep in slurry. Not to mention the ammonia concentrations.....are they being monitored? For both animal and human health?
And....what now? Proceed on one engine..to where?
What an absolute disaster.....AGAIN.
Well its a constant theme really.....Moore and colleagues might not have assessed mechanical failures (or rough seas) to be risk factors for cattle mortality....but yet again we have a live ex mechanical issue.
Yep....Ocean Outback broken down....last Tues 29th Dec...and unless it has moved since midnight, it is still in Henderson shipyards....LOADED. So that will be a few days for loading plus a week sitting going nowhere....so likely 9-10 days onboard already for sheep and cattle destined for Israel BEFORE they even get to sail. So, if they sail.....one terrible trip. If they don't, one terrible biosecurity issue for Australian livestock. What a fantastic industry this really is.