As DAWE is now considering granting an exemption so that the Al Kuwait can load sheep in June, it is timely to consider the ongoing debate over moratorium dates. Over the past few weeks, ALEC has attempted to discredit an editorial and scientific paper by Dr Clive Phillips on the heat stress suffered by sheep shipped from Australia to the Middle East by claiming his data is out of date.
The “current results” that ALEC instead cite as representative of the industry relate to a single voyage (n=1) in April this year ... on the Covid ship of the moment, Al Kuwait (the rebadged Ocean Shearer bought from Wellard). The ship didn't have an independent observer onboard, and it sailed during a month that carries a relatively low heat stress risk compared to the months that Phillips considered in his analysis of 14 voyages (n=14).
The federal government itself gave Phillips temperature and mortality data from 14 voyages that occurred from May to December, between 2016 and 2018. And yes, it was before increased space allocation but no amount of space can save sheep on ships from suffering and dying when the temperatures are above their physiological coping limits (see shipboard veterinarian comment for Independent Observer Report 12: "The animals had plenty of space and ventilation was good; there was simply no relief from hot and humid conditions").
Heat stress is real. No amount of space will prevent it. There is nothing “outdated” about this fact, and there's no “cultural heritage” in the Middle East that makes it ethical to ignore it.
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