This is what you would have seen in Cape Town this week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRE_UjxEO04
WARNING: THE FOOTAGE MAY CAUSE DISTRESS but is only a fraction of what is available in the media.
This is the industry's showcase carrier - large, modern, purpose built, with good fodder storage and a crew who are used to working under Australian direction ie should know good feed, watering, cleaning, treatment and euthanasia routines. So, if the Australian live ex trade has lifted animal welfare standards worldwide, exactly how could conditions onboard have reached this state for a non-Australian consignment? How could a ship of this size (even if overstocked) have run out of food only 8 days into a long haul voyage? What happened to their washdowns?
This is one dirty, disgusting trade worldwide and no matter what Australia and its live ex industry would like to tell us - the Australian live ex industry has not made a blind bit of difference to lifting animal welfare standards in other countries.
The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) has conducted an inspection of the MV Al Kuwait , which is currently docked at Cape Town Harbour. They were alerted to its presence by the odour: "The vessel, emitting a foul odour that has spread over the city, prompted the NSPCA to seek access through a court order after initial denial."
The Cape of Good Hope SPCA made an application for and was granted a court order to enter the Al Kuwait to ensure the welfare of the animals on board but had to enlist the assistance of Sea Border SAPS after initially being denied access. Personnel from the NSPCA and the Cape of Good Hope SPCA began their inspection of the 19,000 cattle aboard the Al Kuwait yesterday accompanied by the Sea Border SAPS to ensure the safety of the team. The pictures give a good indication of the animal welfare onboard the ship. Reportedly some animals were euthanased on humane grounds. The vessel, carrying 19 000 cattle, departed from Brazil on February 10, 2024, and somewhat unusually (given the Al Kuwait picked up food in Fremantle before heading to Brazil), is scheduled to load feed for the animals before proceeding to its intended destination in the Middle East. Reportedly
The BBC reports that the crew of a Belize-flagged, British-registered cargo vessel have abandoned ship off Yemen after it was hit by missiles fired by the Houthi movement. The Rubymar was in the Gulf of Aden and nearing the Bab al-Mandab Strait when it was struck. Rubymar's security firm, LSS Sapu, and data provider Lloyd's List Intelligence later confirmed that it had sustained damage after being hit by two missiles. The ship is reportedly taking on water.
What is the destination for the MV Dareen? Is it Jeddah in Saudi Arabia? If so, then serious questions need to be asked of the Dept of Ag as to why they continue to approve vessels carrying Australian livestock to this volatile war zone.
With the industry under the spotlight and assuring us that animal welfare is their top priority, it will perhaps come as a surprise for many to hear that on this extreme heat day in Fremantle, sheep are being loaded onto the MV Dareen. The temperature in Fremantle right now (1628 pm) with trucks rolling in is 41 degrees C in the shade (see digital display). There is not a breath of wind. However, the trucks have to park up in the full sun waiting to offload the sheep. The temperature in the full sun right now in Fremantle is 45 degrees Celcius dry bulb temperature (DBT) and 31.5 degrees Celcius wet bulb temperature (WBT) - see wet and dry bulb thermometer image. That WBT is above the published heat stress threshold for sheep.
NOTE: at 1645pm, the DBT in the shade was 42 degrees, WBT 31 degrees. The open decks on this ship cannot cool to less than ambient temperature so HST is likely being exceeded even before the animals leave Fremantle for Saudi.
THE head of the live export industry’s peak research and development corporation has defended the industry’s animal welfare credentials and called out animal welfare groups. Mr Troy Settler criticised RSPCA on the basis that RSPCA had not been on the ship....hello... they werent invited (unlike when the same ship under a different name returned to Fremantle in 2016 and RSPCA officers allowed on board).
According to Beef Central, Mr Settler also apparently stated “ the activists’ own drone footage showed the animals were exceptionally clean, they were cool, they were sitting on fresh bedding and there had been numerous washes.”
If this quote is accurate then questions need to be asked about the "peak research" from LiveCorp. Cattle pens (not evident in drone footage), are washed down when position and circumstances dictate and allow. Sheep pens are NOT washed down - not on the Bahijah nor any other ship. Nor were the sheep sitting on fresh bedding - they were sitting in their own dried faeces. The faceal pad, when dry and friable, as it was with low humidity in Fremantle, does provide a comfortable pad but it is definitely NOT fresh bedding. As for being cool - a quick check of the Government panting scores shows that sheep breathing at 120bpm are not cool - they are heat affected.
Maybe Mr Settler should do a little research before bagging out lack of knowledge from others!
VALE is pleased to report that the Friesian Express made it to Karachi without Houthi or other incidents. However, the fact remains that there could have been no reasonable contingency for this voyage using this vessel, with its lack of bulk fodder storage. This is the only Vroon ship without a fodder silo. All other Vroon vessels have >530m3 fodder silo with >150m2 deck fodder area. This vessel has 0 fodder silo and 122 m2 of deck fodder area. Bagged fodder is expensive and storage capacity on this ship limited. It should be kept out of conflict areas and used for short haul voyages only.
Day 20 of sailing and voyage duration (under ASEL) of at least 21 days (includes days of loading). ETA is still unchanged for Karachi (15.2). With the lack of bulk storage on this vessel, accurate voyage duration prediction is critical. ASEL only mandates for 3 extra days....how many days were predicted for this small vessel with its very limited deck space for fodder storage? The initial Karachi ETA was 14.2, now 15.2....
Position: N 15° 48' E 071° 22'
Speed: 10.0 kn
Time: 12.02.2024 4:45 AEST
After 7 days bobbing around Fremantle, Australian sheep and cattle are finally back into Fremantle Port. This voyage, under ASEL definitions will have been at least 40 days - 2 days loading plus 38 days of sailing - and thats before unloading is completed, likely at least another 2 days. Forty two days! This will be the longest voyage for sheep in decades.
These animals should be suitable rested and then processed in Australia. They should not have to endure ever having to go on a ship again. Most animal welfare experts would agree that even once is too much. Twice would be barbaric....especially after what they have already been through.
VALE is grateful that the Acting Assistant Secretary for Plant and Live Animal Exports, Welfare and Regulation Division (Andrew McDonald) rejected approval for re-export and for the transparency of the Reasons. However the comment about the extra wool length for the sheep not being a problem going to a Northern Hemisphere winter is somewhat concerning. The only way a sheep can get from Australia to the Northern Hemisphere winter is across the Equator which is hot and humid all the year around. This cannot be mitigated thus why ASEL has a wool length stipulation despite no voyages of sheep going to a Northern Hemisphere Summer any more.