Whilst countries such as UK are progressively looking to reduce all live exports, Ireland continues to live export cattle on an increasing scale. Their cattle are often unaccompanied by veterinarians on their voyages and end up in destinations that even Australia wont export to, such as Libya. Their trade continues to blacken any reputation the country may have had for good animal welfare but, like Australia, it is fully supported and promoted by their Dept of Agriculture:
“All live export shipments from Ireland are conducted in compliance with legislative requirements" ....except when they arent
“The Government supports the live export of animals as it is a critical part of Ireland’s livestock industry, and the Government demands the highest standards of animal welfare during transport. "....yes transporting 15 day old calves by sea is definitely an animal welfare model of excellence
"The department facilitates this trade, recognising its critical importance to the agri-sector, while ensuring that live animal exports meet the highest welfare standards.”....heard that one before
And as for the local ferry company shipping calves less than one month of age transported by sea (even Australia doesnt do that!):
“Stena Line takes its duty of care for the welfare of live animals very seriously.”
Ireland must have copied and pasted all the standard responses from Australia - we might have poor animal welfare but we have the world's best animal welfare spin. VALE assumes that Aussie spin fits well with Irish blarney.
Northern WA's only large-scale abattoir reopened in April following an 18-month closure. With the Indonesian foot and mouth disease outbreak heavily impacting the live cattle export trade, the abattoir is now taking stock that would normally be destined for the live export trade. Meanwhile, the abattoir near Batchelor in the Northern Territory is set to resume processing on July 4 after more than six months of being out of operation. Thats odd - we were always told by the live-ex industry that local processing wasnt an option ...well until it was of course.
The Chief executive of Yeeda Pastoral Company, which owns the Kimberley abattoir, David Larkin, said in June that he was working towards expanding the daily processing capacity from 200 to 300 head of cattle and that they were processing cattle from across northern WA and the Northern Territory. The plan next year is to process more than 80000 cattle.
Mr Larkin said when the live export trade to Indonesia was suddenly banned in 2011, northern WA did not have any abattoirs.He felt the industry was much better placed in 2022 and stated: "A viable processing plant in the north of Australia we would have to think is essential."
VALE would agree - local processing is not only good for farmers in this risky business but infinitely better for the animals. Perhaps we could start sending boxed meat to Indonesia? Wouldnt that be a novel idea?
The Gulf Livestock 1 capsized on 2 September 2020, and yet the livestock and maritime industries are still none the wiser as to the cause of this disaster. The livestock carrier, with 43 people and 5,800 dairy cows onboard, was sailing through a forecasted typhoon (Typhoon Maysak) on a voyage from New Zealand to China. Only two crew members survived. Forty one men including Phillipine, Australian and New Zealand nationals lost their lives. Video footage sent by the crew as the vessel took on water show the water coming into the vessel.
The livestock carrier fleet is old, the vessels are often sailing under flags of convenience and when something does go wrong, the flag state for the vessel can delay investigation reports for years (see the protracted investigation for another livestock carrier, the Danny FII). Like the Danny F II, the Flag State for Gulf Livestock 1 is also Panama. The report of the investigation has apparently been released to family members of the two New Zealand crew who lost their lives. It is not known whether the families of the Philippine or Australian crew have also seen the report and Panama is yet to makes its investigation report publicly available.
A group of farmers who collectively sold $1 million worth of cattle to a live export company in March are reported by 1News NZ to be still unpaid. Farmers from around New Zealand sold cattle to Waikato-based Genetic Development (NZ) Exports Limited Partnership (GDEX LP). The 12,300 head of cattle were destined for China at the end of April this year, however the shipment failed after the livestock carrier, MV Al Kuwait, built in 2016, broke down enroute to New Zealand to collect the animals. and was replaced with a smaller ship. At least one farmer who had cattle returned to him, reported animal welfare issues in the returned animals.
This trade always has been a risky business for animals and a risky business for farmers.
However, this current situation in NZ also demonstrates that having a phase-out period with a “Continuous Improvement Programme” still has potential for, and possibly results in, serious welfare problems. Phaseout periods should always be as short as possible.