VALE would say yes....at least for the animals but see the latest maritime article on this topic : /splash247.com/are-livestock-carriers-synonymous-with-disaster/ . Perhaps, there are more reasons than just Covid for vets and stockpersons not wanting to go on ships: www.farmweekly.com.au/story/6929641/vets-and-observers-in-short-supply-for-live-ex-voyages/?cs=5151&fbclid=IwAR1pW_yeOxGlLaiE-JaodTZY4DbKlCl36ST30R8N0ugYGjgXudioPegPNSo
Regardless, people can choose and make informed choices.....we must always remember that the animals have never had any choice.
And Meanwhile Across the Tasman..
Major animal welfare organisation SPCA and animal rights organisation SAFE have written an open letter to the NZ prime minister requesting cessation of livestock export. NZ stopped their export trade for slaughter years ago to protect their reputation but continued to export dairy cows knowing that they had to endure terrible voyages and that there was no protection for them at the end destination in huge Chinese mega-dairies.
NZ was right to worry about reputational damage as the worldwide spotlight is firmly on them after the tragedy of the Gulf Livestock 1 .
Can they get everyone to forget?
The live export industry now has nearly a year to try and get everyone to forget the truth. Farm Weekly reports on a push to shorten the Northern Summer Order moratorium. The exporters want a change before next year's anticipated moratorium in June. The report indicates that RETWA's June shipment on the Al Kuwait, a voyage with a stocking density so low that it was not commercially viable, is considered evidence enough for reducing the moratorium.
Even if the voyage were representative, which it was not, consider the facts:
-all sheep suffered some level of heat stress
-28 sheep died but inexplicably another 155 sheep totally disappeared from the manifold
-28 died but only 20 got a post mortem....why? too autolysed with heat stress?
- there were trauma and crush injuries
-3 late pregnant ewes were identified and four lambs born even though late pregnant sheep are not ASEL compliant
- pens near the engine were hotter despite the purported brilliant ventilation on the purpose-built ship
- intervention was required to prevent pen flooding
And let's not forget the images on board the Awassi Express from five voyages showing thousands of sheep suffering severe heat stress and dying bogged in excrement; injured and sick animals left to die slowly; decomposed bodies left in pens with living sheep and pregnant ewes giving birth and their lambs dying.
And lets not forget the statistics that show that the mortality (and thus suffering) is far worse in the northern summer months.
This is the truth about the industry that one "show" voyage by the Al Kuwait is expected to hide.
New Zealand Farmer Takes A Stand
New Zealand farmer Brett Sanger decided to look into the live export industry after the Gulf Livestock 1 capsized, and he didn't like what he saw. Mr Sanger isn't an activist, and he says it's out of character for him to speak to the media, but here is what he has to say about animal welfare in the live export trade, as reported by Stuff NZ:
“You start seeing some fairly appalling images of what’s happened on other ships and on reflection you think, do I really want to be doing this?”...
“We have welfare standards in New Zealand which are probably the highest in the world, or probably up there with the highest in the world, and we’re sending them to another country which has virtually none.”...
"It could possibly cost me a bit but there are other options; you can graze them on yourself longer and different markets open up at different times.
"I saw somebody the other day, saying: 'We're sending our cows, but would you send your companion animals? Would you send your horse? Your dog? What's the difference?'."
The live export of cattle has been temporarily suspended after the government decided it too should look into the trade. Its review, expected to take about a month, will evaluate the export approval process but will not consider the fate of animals going to countries with lower animal welfare standards.
Monty Ndjavera, Director of Tradeport Namibia, has halted his live export plans after strong opposition locally and internationally.
He had planned to ship animals from South Africa and Botswana by road to local seaports for export by ship to Kuwait, but he said his logistics company Tradeport does not want to be involved in a business that will attract widespread outrage. He said he is a proud Namibian and wants to ensure his company’s reputation remains intact.
Congratulations to Mr Ndjavera for listening and for having the flexibility and foresight to consider abandoning the idea and for being optimistic and creative enough to be ready to startup something else instead.
Australian expert Dr Lynn Simpson is quoted in the article saying that countries should slaughter and process the meat domestically and then export it. This will ensure jobs and by-products are kept local and benefit the local economy, instead of sending animals “to a stressfully cruel voyage followed by un-stunned, fully conscious ritual slaughter by knife.”
Cattle on Voyages to China
VALE has just finished analysing 37 voyages of Australian cattle to China using the very brief, inconsistent, incomplete and Govt edited independent observer summaries and high mortality reports available. In addition to issues with pen conditions and heat stress, 11/37 of these voyages (30%) had issues with insufficient food for the cattle and 14/37 (38%) had issues with water supply; under-reporting is a possibility given the nature of the reports.
Of concern, rough seas were noted in at least 7/37 (19%) voyages. It has been reported that the day before the Gulf Livestock 1 sunk last week, a crew member is reported to have texted 'We havent been allowed outside for 12 hours". In rough seas, crew are not allowed to leave the superstructure/ accommodation tower to pass into the animal house due to risks. This is obviously essential to protect personnel but consider this - every time this happens, for the duration of the "weather event", animals cannot be checked to ensure that food and water are adequate and that necessary treatments can be provided. They are on their own at the mercy of the weather for however long it takes.
Our thoughts today are very much with the family and friends of the crew of the Gulf Livestock 1 particularly the family and friends of the Australian veterinarian, Dr Lukas Orda. We continue to hope against hope.
A Filipino crew member Sareno Edvardo has been rescued from capsized Gulf Livestock 1 after a typhoon hit Japanese waters. Search continues for other staff and 5800 live cattle. News.com has reported that the Mr Edvardo told rescuers the ship had suffered engine failure during the typhoon, before it capsized after being hit by a freak wave.
This ship appears to have had mechanical issues previously. A report on the website of FleetMon, a German-based maritime tracking site, apparently showed the ship anchored off the Turkish coast in September 2018 "to fix a mechanical problem" that required delivery of spare parts. In May 2019, AMSA detained it due to navigation and stability issues (Independent Observer Report 134) and on a June/July 2019, voyage to China there was an issue with the main engine such that the shift drifted around for 25 hours (Independent Observer Report 144). SMH reported that a December inspection report from Indonesian authorities on the website of Equasis which collates ship safety information from both public and private sources, logged issues with the ship's propulsion and auxilliary machinery. The issues included "deficiencies" with the propulsion main engine and "gauges, thermometers". The ship was also rescued by the Phillipines navy in July 2020 due to engine failure.
On November 22, 2018 the Jawan left port rolling heavily, nearly capsizing fully loaded with 4,327 cattle onboard. Jawan was a livestock carrier reportedly converted from a 630 teu boxship,
Now, the Gulf Livestock 1 has gone down....another converted 630 teu boxship and a ship that also had previous stability issues. In May 2019, stability and navigation issues were identified by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and the ship's departure was delayed for one week to allow these issues to be resolved (Independent Observer Report 134).
A typhoon is risk enough, especially near the end of a voyage when a ship will be fodder depleted (ie "ballast" reduced) and thus top heavy. If this ship, or its 'sisters' have any additional stability issues, it may not have taken much to push this over the edge.
Thoughts are with the 5800 cattle and the largely Filipino crew (one of which has been saved), the 2 Australians and 2 New Zealanders and their families. This is a unique and risky business and it harms both people and animals.
See also: https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/livestock-carrier-with-43-crew-feared-lost-in-typhoon-off-japan
See also: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-03/missing-live-export-ship-43-crew-typhoon-coastguard/12624472
Splash 24/7 has reported that Japan’s coastguard is searching for Gulf Livestock 1 after receiving a distress call from the vessel early this morning. The livestock carrier had 43 crew members onboard and is likely to be loaded with livestock from NZ on a voyage to China. Both aerial searches and four coastguard vessels could not locate the vessel and all communication has been lost. It is assumed that it encountered bad weather, a feature of so many cattle voyages from Oz to China also.
Out of 37 voyages VALE analysed from Oz to China, this ship had done 4 of them. It is a similar ship to the Jawan that nearly capsized last year.
Terrible for the stock, the stockperson and for the crew if this ship has indeed gone down. And there will be at least 4 Independent Observers who can count themselves lucky tonight that they werent on that ship.