A media statement by the Maritime Union of Australia has highlighted the COVID danger to Australia involved with the live trade after a confirmed case of COVID on the Diamantina in Darwin. The MUA said vessels continued to dock around Australia inside the 14 day quarantine period imposed on other travellers, while the maritime arrival system remained reliant on a self-declaration system where a ship’s master is responsible for reporting if there are sick crew members on board (hmmm.....yes....think Al Kuwait!).
“Port workers, their families, the Darwin community, and all the vulnerable Indigenous communities in the NT continue to be put at risk because the Federal Government lacks a cohesive and consistent national policy addressing the unique risks posed by maritime supply chains. The current system, which is reliant on international shipowners, driven by profit, self-reporting potential illnesses — knowing that this will cause them costly delays — cannot guarantee the safety of our members or the broader community."
As VALE has repeatedly commented: where this is poor animal health and welfare, there is invariably little respect for human health and welfare.
The Guardian has reported figures from the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) which indicate that 1.8 billion live chickens, pigs, sheep, goats and cattle were moved across borders in 2019. Individual countries tend to specialise in which animal they focus on for export production, and fattening can occur in a different country to production or slaughter.
The risks for the animals include stress during loading and unloading, injury, hunger, thirst and exhaustion, and low slaughter standards.
The OIE’s Terrestrial Animal Health Code states (in several places): “The amount of time animals spend on a journey should be kept to the minimum.” This is a fundamental principle of animal welfare that should not be left to market forces. But with signatories including EU countries (trafficking animals here there and everywhere at multiple life stages) and Australia (pushing live ex as hard as it can), there is clearly an incentive to a selective interpretation of "minimum"!
Animal welfare laws consistent with Australian expectations for the treatment of cattle exported overseas will apparently be enshrined in Vietnam, with the help of Australia's livestock export industry. The new animal health laws being developed by the government of Vietnam will apply to all cattle in the country, regardless of their origin, covering animal husbandry and handling, disease prevention, transport, traceability, slaughter, and food safety. If Australia did make a country-wide improvement in animal welfare in Vietnam, it would be the first time in the history of live export.....so probably rather optimistic.
VALE would of course encourage any such improvements....and, if any meaningful laws are enacted, someone in Vietnam might realise that animals should not be exported, as they are, crowded and without bedding, by sea, from Australia.
The UK is undertaking an eight-week consultation on animal welfare including the banning of live animals for slaughter and fattening.
Leaving the EU has enabled the UK Government to pursue the plans, and if successful, it would become the first country in Europe to end the practice.
The government is also consulting on proposals to reduce maximum journey times, provide more space and headroom during transport, enact stricter rules on transporting animals in extreme temperatures and tightening rules for transporting live animals by sea.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “We are committed to improving the welfare of animals at all stages of life. Today marks a major step forward in delivering on our manifesto commitment to end live exports for slaughter.
“Now that we have left the EU, we have an opportunity to end this unnecessary practice. We want to ensure that animals are spared stress prior to slaughter.”
The move is part of UK plans to strengthen its position as a world leader on animal welfare.
VALE looks forward to seeing if the government will be true to its word after the consultation.
Yep....beef export, not cattle export. Argentina's beef sector will have upgraded processing and cold chain infrastructure under a government initiative that will allow a 33 per cent increase in exports over the next three years to 1.2 million tonnes a year.
Has Australia been left lagging again whilst we cling onto the archaic live ex trade?
The livestock carrier Queen Hind capsized on November 24, 2019, with the loss of around 14,000 sheep. The Romanian government has been accused of silence regarding its investigation into the incident. The Guardian reports: “Romania’s prime minister Ludovic Orban vowed on television last year to end live exports in the “medium-term”. However, since the Queen Hind disaster more than 2 million live animals have been exported from Romania – mostly to north Africa and the Middle East.”
The Guardian contacted the vessel’s management company, MGM Marine Shipping, and reported that a company representative said: “Nothing has changed, I don’t want to talk any more about this vessel – I want to forget about it,” before hanging up.
It seems government and industry are much the same in Romania as they are here in Australia – falsely promising reform when incidents are in the public eye before returning to existing practices and shunning transparency.