We all know that the real winners in LE are the exporters. But right now, just a few wheels seem to be falling off:
1. Wellard share prices woeful, languishing around 25c in a much lambasted first year of trading: "an embarrassing mess" according to the very conservative West Australian newspaper
2. Wellard's Mauro Balzarini has quit Perth in disgust (although the even more conservative Financial Review worded this as "Perth says good riddance")....
3. Wellard's Mauro Balzarini even tries to sell his jet....oh now thats really sad
4. The second-biggest shareholder in Wellard had to turn to a rival exporter to send 18,000 sheep from WA to the Middle East after a decline in business with Wellard...shame
5. Record high cattle prices....because the combination of drought and record LE numbers has depleted the national herd (and they are surprised about that?)
6. Indonesia has changed the rules again....hard not say "told you so"....and 6 LE ships remain anchored outside key northern ports as Indonesian importers negotiate terms to new breeder cattle quota rules. Dr Ross Ainsworth, said the costs to exporters having ships sitting idle was "horrendous..The ships will have to be sent somewhere else or the companies will simply run out of money." (do we dare to hope?)
7. The Bader hasnt been seen in Freo for ages (is it getting ready to be scrapped?) and the new Ocean Shearer, inexplicably, is sitting empty, all lights blazing, in Freo Port...for the 7th day.
Just every now and again the animals need to have a win. They dont know it...but now seems to be one of those times.
Despite two highly downloaded peer-reviewed papers (1,2) on welfare in live export in highly cited The Veterinary Journal, and industry stating that collaboration with VALE was needed, VALE failed to crack an invite to the latest LiveEx Forum. Guess they dont really want to hear the bad stuff ...more important to be seen to be doing something than doing it...!
Oh yes and as for the much publicised invitation to meet with AVA, VALE and Dr Lynn Simpson.....????? VALE is yet to receive our formal invitation to that meeting. Wonder if the others have been invited...
Loading the "rejects"...ASEL?
VALE monitored livestock being loaded at Fremantle Port for a number of years (until they banned public access to stop us). We observed animals on the truck that met ASEL rejection criteria and some that would have been not "fit-to-load" under any code. We saw sheep with scabby mouth heading to the ill-fated Ocean Drover voyage (rejection for scabby mouth in Bahrain resulted in the brutal slaughter of 22000 sheep in Pakistan). We had no way of knowing whether these "reject" animals were rejected after inspection at the Port but the number of sheep leaving on the reject trucks was quite low. We documented our concerns in a submission to the Fremantle Port Review.
Well now we have the other side of the story. Ex live-ex veterinarian Dr Lynn Simpson has confirmed that "rejects" were not always rejected at port. She details the frustrations and difficulties that the "rejects" caused shipboard veterinarians, knowing that these animals should never have made it onto the boat.
This isnt an overseas issue. These non-rejected "rejects" were animals that should have had protection under Australian law ie ASEL.
Not even ESCAS for our breeders!
ESCAS might afford some protection for slaughter cattle but Australian breeding animals are left to fend for themselves once exported. Their fates are highly variable and some can endure shocking conditions as reported by veterinary technician Debbie Clarke in 2012.
Ex live-ex veterinarian, Dr Lynn Simpson, has also highlighted the plight of Australian breeding animals...and it is very clear that their dollar value does not protect them from end-destination cruelty.
ESCAS is far from the be-all and end-all we are told it is...but there needs to be some type of ESCAS with end destination auditing and monitoring for our exported breeders.
121 lambs have reportedly died from heat stress on a flight from Ireland to Singapore. The lambs were part of a 1,700-strong flock bound for the Hari Raya Haji festival, also known as EID. Australia provided another 1800 sheep.
This is not the first time that sheep have died due while in transit to the festival. In 2014, over 170 sheep imported from Australia died mid-flight, also due to heat stress. And when they do arrive safely....it is to end up with unstunned slaughter.
As industry and government fall over each other to cover up the welfare and shipping deficiencies in the live ex trade, the maritime press has not been quite so kind.
Splash 24/7 has chosen to run a number of articles written by ex-shipboard vet Dr Lynn Simpson, who in a first, also took front page on the cover of Maritime CEO...a position that has previously been reserved for shipowners.
Meanwhile The Maritime Executive continues to explore the lesser known issues of poor ship design (Feces-falls-and-flooding and Live-Export designing ships for animals), difficulties in regulating foreign-flagged livestock carriers, high mortality voyages, assessment of the fleet and some of the peer-reviewed scientific articles on livestock mortality.
If poor profits dont end the trade, could the maritime industry signal its death knell?
Yep, this was the reason given behind Elders announcing they were pulling out of long haul live export. Meanwhile Wellard share price languishes (0.26 AUD currently) after a dismal performance in their first year.... and Mauro Balzarini quits Australia (see the Financial Review article titled "Perth says Good Riddance to Wellard's Mauro Balzarini").
Hopefully commerce will achieve what animal advocacy hasnt!
An article in Stock & Land describes beef producers' discontent with the performance of the live exporters. They are obviously worried about damaging their brand. Slow learners and no concern for the animals, of course.