VALE welcomes the announcement the election promise from the ALP that they will phase out live sheep export and will also establish an independent office for animal welfare.
To see the ALP statement on animal welfare see: https://www.alp.org.au/policies/strengthening-animal-welfare
To see how the newly formed Australian Alliance has ranked the major parties on key animal welfare issues see: https://www.allianceforanimals.org.au/federal-election-2022
TradeWinds reported on 5 April that nearly 200 seafarers on the Ghena, the Bader III and Zein I were reported as abandoned in different parts of the Atlantic by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and owed at least two months’ wages.
A lawyer for Hijazi & Ghoshen Co (H&G), the Jordan-based firm that directly owns the Bader III, as well as the other two ships at group level, acknowledged delays in crew payments. However, he disputed that any of the ships had ever been abandoned in the legal sense of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), and said that full crew payment is forthcoming.
Speaking of the Bader III, a vessel reflagged to Panama this month, the lawyer Tim Cocks said: “We have received confirmation on 12 April from our clients that the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) has accepted full payment of the crew so that the Bader III is now in full MLC compliance. However, according to TradeWinds, a ITF representative contacted by them disputed the company’s account for the Bader III, which is in Venezuela, saying the crew has only received promises of March wages but nothing in cash to date.
H&G accused the ITF of waging “a sustained and vigorous campaign of attack” to “discredit” their vessels. Hmmm interesting.....attacked on all fronts it seems - seafarer and animal welfare...
Note: the photo with the article acknolwedged as being from Tom Dawkins ALEC....proudly showing the loading of an emaciated sheep onto some unstated vessel in South Australia...so much for the Virtual Tours eh?
Beef Central reports that details of an investigation into the capsizing of the Gulf Livestock 1 are still not being released almost two years after it happened. Panama authorities have been leading an investigation into the disaster without releasing any details to the public.
NZ media outlet Stuff reported on the weekend that the findings of the investigation had been handed to the NZ government and NZ families of the victims, with none of them releasing or discussing it.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said last year it was trying to obtain the findings of the investigation..."AMSA is hopeful the report addresses some of the fundamental concerns that may have led to the loss of the Gulf Livestock 1.”
For the safety of both crew and livestock, VALE believes it is imperative that this report is released in full.
6 days and 5 emails to the Department regarding concerns about cattle on a very prolonged voyage to China have yet to yield a definitive answer of whether cattle were on board the MV Dareen between Qinhuangdao Port and Shanghai Port.
So far, VALE has been told that there have been no notifiable incidents for the ship and that "I can confirm the consignment was discharged at the port." Problem is that "I", the newly appointed A/g Assistant Secretary Joffrid Mackett, overlooked that this answer fails to define at which port (Qinhuangdao or Shanghai) the cattle were discharged .....or was it a deliberate obfuscation?
See full correspondence at: https://www.vale.org.au/gov-correspondence.html
Plenty of voyage information from NZ now out there thanks to FOI (see below) and not much doubt about the misery:
- heat stress - sometimes acknowledged, sometimes evident in descriptions even if denied (standard Australian, and seemingly NZ practice aka Basil Fawlty is "dont mention the heat stress")
- high levels of injury and lameness, much higher than reported on Australian voyages due no doubt to breed and the consistently rough seas on these voyages from NZ to China
- insufficient bedding - noted in every report!
- ships with repetitive water leak and trough issues (and yes VALE has raised these same issues with the same ships with DAWE)
- AND RUNNING OUT OF FOOD.....a recurrent theme (as per VALE's research and exposure - see Hing et al 2021)
What these docs also show is the extreme anxiety that the lack of priority discharge causes in China - repetitively......so all eyes on the Dareen in Shanghai, still not alongside port yet...
Live Export Voyage Reports 2021.pdf
On Friday, VALE noted that the MV Dareen, which left Portland on 11 March 2022 was sitting at anchorage in Shanghai port after spending some days at Qinhuangdao Anchorage and Port between 27 Mar and 2 April 2022. Today it is noted to be heading into port.
Unless all the Portland cattle were unloaded at Qinhuangdao (unlikely if it then proceeded to Shanghai), the concern is that there may still be cattle onboard this ship. If so, any cattle onboard would have been onboard for 32-34 days after being loaded at Portland (approximately 2 days of loading time).
VALE has no information about how many days of extra provisions are on board the MV Dareen but 32-34 days would likely exceed the usual ASEL requirements of 3 days over the predicted time for China voyages. VALE also does not know if extra fodder was loaded at Qinhuangdao.
On Friday 8th April, VALE asked DAWE to confirm the status of this ship - loaded with cattle vs empty- and inform VALE of what measures are in place to ensure that any cattle on this vessel have adequate food and water for the remaining number of days until unloading. The Department have not replied to VALE.
According to an online article https://www.tradewindsnews.com/news/three-livestock-carriers-reported-abandoned-in-atlantic/2-1-1196686, nearly 200 seafarers are said to be stranded on three livestock carriers linked to the same Middle Eastern company, owed at least two months’ wages.
The vessels are the Ghena, Bader III and Zein I. The Bader and Ghena regularly plied the Australian live ex trade for years.
According to the postings, the Ghena has been at Montevideo anchorage in Uruguay since 15 February. Seventy Filipino crew members, three Colombians and one from Jordan are reported on board, owed two months of wages.
Up to 74 seafarers are said to be on board the Bader III, which has been reported as abandoned since 15 February at Puerto Cabello in Venezuela. According to the ITF, most crew are owed two months’ wages and a number of Pakistanis on board even six months’.
The livestock carrier trade is often criticised for poor animal welfare. As poor animal welfare and poor human welfare are often associated, this latest twist should come as no surprise. Lets hope the crew are paid and the ships scuttled!
The Department of Ag has announced their interim decision on prohibition periods. The summary of their decision is:
See: VALE Media Release
Another tragedy is playing out onboard an antiquated livestock carrier – this one built in 1973. On February 23, the livestock carrier Spiridon II left Tarragona in Spain with around 300 young bulls from France and Spain and 7,600 Spanish sheep were on board. Their destination was the Port of Aqaba in Jordan, but engine problems interrupted the voyage, and the ship spent three days near Greek ports. Spiridon II was finally brought to Eleusis, near Athens, Greece on March 4. There the 8,000 animals were loaded directly from the Spiridon II to the Adel I, via a ramp, on the water.
There was no veterinarian on board and it remains unclear whether the animals were fit to continue the journey to Jordan after 10 days onboard the vessel.
Unloading the animals onto European grounds was not an option, because once on the water, they are declared as “export” animals and cannot re-enter the EU. This can lead to tragedies such as the prolonged suffering that occurred onboard the Karim Allah and Elbeik in early 2021, where 2,600 calves and cattle were eventually subjected to emergency slaughter after spending months at sea.
So, yet another live ex "incident" because this is a uniquely and inherently risky trade carried out on ancient vessels to countries with no animal welfare laws.
VALE welcomes the announcement by Dr Bidda Jones, Dr Jed Goodfellow and Dr Meg Good that they have launched the Australian Alliance for Animals. The Alliance is calling for the formation of an independent national animal welfare commission, a reform which was recommended by the productivity commission in 2017.
VALE agrees that the current regulatory system is "broken" and that archaic industry animal welfare practices are no longer acceptable even when industry claims they are. Live export is not acceptable and nor is the industry-appeasing, Government proposed windback on sheep export prohibition periods to the Middle East.