VALE welcomes news that Dr Bidda Jones, Dr Jed Goodfellow and Dr Meg Good 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.
At the same time, one of our veterinary colleagues over the ditch, Dr Helen Beattie, former Chief Veterinary Officer at the NZVA has launched Veterinarians for Animal Welfare Aotearoa (VAWA). The start-up aims to provide science-based animal welfare advocacy, creating better lives for animals using knowledge and expertise in veterinary and animal welfare science.
This move by eminent welfare scientists, lawyers and veterinarians is a clear indication that current regulatory systems are "broken" in both Australia and New Zealand. VALE wishes both groups all the best in their endeavours to improve animal welfare.
An article in Scoop has revealed stories of horrific injury, heat stress and abortion in cows shipped from New Zealand to China. Of course this was not in the public domain and the evidence from veterinarian reports was obtained from voyages last year obtained under the Official Information Act 1982.
So, its not just Australia.....same ships, same companies, same issues as per these two examples:
Heat stress: “On 7 May 2021, the Brahman Express departed Timaru. Seven fatalities were reported, including three pregnant Friesians who died from heat stress. Reported symptoms included abdominal discomfort, tremors, and mouth-breathing. One of these heat stressed individuals was described as “recumbent and not getting up” and was subsequently “hosed down” until she got to her feet. She died the following morning.”
Injuries: “Another vessel, the Yangtze Harmony, departed Napier on 8 April 2021 and reported 16 deaths during the voyage. Equally disturbing is the suffering these animals endured. A specific section for reporting on fractures reads, ‘Two leg fractures occurred early on the trip likely during loading. One neck fracture confirmed and one suspected, from being stuck in railings. Rib fractures in one animal presumed from trampling...The animal who had fractures in their right hind leg was not euthanised until ten days into the voyage.”
NZ has long been considered the the poster-child of good animal welfare but their live ex trade, unnoticed prior to the sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1 is ensuring their place on the animal welfare pedestal is crumbling. Yes, they are doing away with the live ex trade but meanwhile, animals continue to suffer and the country's reputation is being progressively tarnished.
If Australia thought the world wasnt watching, its wrong. Voyages to China make the news OS with reference to VALE's paper.
Al Mawashi has paused the live export of sheep from South Africa to the Middle East, blaming the South African Department of Agriculture for “dragging their feet”.
The South African animal welfare agency NSPCA says this is a victory for the animals - it is and thanks to the tireless work of NSPCA
However, concerningly, sheep will instead be exported from Australia – where the industry is currently trying to undo the moratorium on the live export of sheep from Australia’s winter to the Middle East summer.
Let’s hope that the Australian government stands firm on animal welfare and doesnt bow to the Kuwaiti pressure.
LiveCorp is reportedly introducing students from Taminmin College near Darwin to the live export industry, with an eye for finding them placements.Let’s hope the students recognize a sunset industry when they see one and instead look to a future in ethical agriculture.
VALE urges the students to analyse the industry’s track record on animal welfare and contact VALE or the RSPCA for more information on the suffering of Northern Territory cattle and buffalo suffer along the supply chain, at sea and once they reach their destination. VALE can supply peer reviewed scientific information (as opposed to glossy industry spin) on request eg Hing et al Animal Welfare Risks in Live Cattle Export from Australia to China by Sea in which Independent observer summaries identified hunger, thirst, exposure to extreme temperatures, poor pen conditions, health issues, absence of veterinarians, rough seas, poor ship infrastructure, mechanical breakdown and mismanagement at discharge as animal welfare concerns (https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/11/10/2862)
A quick flick through a Freo Port log 2002-2003 made interesting reading. Of the vessels leaving Freo between 12.02-08.03, the following live ex vessels were listed:
Becrux – built 2002; now Ocean Drover – in Freo 27.12.02 and in port now
Bison Express – built 1995 – still operating out of Australia
Brahman Express – built 2002 - currently exporting cattle from Darwin to Jakarta
Maysora – built 1989 – still operating out of Fremantle
Shorthorn Express – built 1998 – still operating, including out of Australia and NZ in 2020
Al Shuwaikh – now Bashar One – built 1986 - still operating but not out of Australia since double tier decks banned
Bader III – 1978 still operating but not out of Australia since double tier decks banned
Danny F II – sunk loaded in 2009; Australian stockman died
Cormo Express - dead
Buffalo Express - dead
Corriedale Express – dead (scrapped 2021!)
Al Khaleej - dead
YEP out of 12 vessels in Freo Port 20 years ago, 7 are still operating as livestock carriers around the world with 5/12 still operating out of Australia. What a modern fleet of vessels to be used by the trade!
So much for Australia caring so much about our Indo neighbours and their protein malnutrition .....when the beef prices are high, suddenly live ex drops (our neighbours protein requirements suddenly no longer important), and....the Indonesians turn to boxed beef for their precious protein! No great surprise there, protein never needed to be supplied as live animals. What is of concern is that under the sway of the powerful and self-interested live ex industry the Australian beef and pastoral industry has refused to look at boxed beef exports and now Brazil is jumping in and scooping the market. Well done Brazil.....shame on Australia.
According to Beef Central, the use of automated sensors to monitor environmental conditions on livestock ships is apparently a step closer to adoption following a successful technology trial carried out by research body LiveCorp. Congratulations to LiveCorp for pursuing the initiative....but we have a feeling that the exporters wont like the answers they get from it. Could just show that conditions are inhumane....???? Watch this space but expect all sorts of "practical difficulties" that preclude its implementation!
Human trafficking and slavery on the Elita and .....now unpaid sailors on Barkly Pearl and Diamantina. The Guardian reported that "Thirty five sailors were left unpaid for three months while aboard live export cattle ships with poor safety records amid a dispute between the ships’ managers and owners, one of whom is Australian businessman Nick Thorne". Apparently, both ships are 70% owned by Singaporean company Beng Kuang Marine (BKM) with Thorne owning the remaining 30% through his Northern Territory-based cattle export business, NTXLS.
The 7,700 tonne Diamantina and the 5,400 tonne Barkly Pearl normally take cattle from Australia to south east Asia but have been sitting idle in Indonesian waters for the past three months amid a dispute between the owners and their manager, Global Radiance Ship Management. Barkly Pearl was booted out of Australia by AMSA for 2 years in Jan 2021 after sailing around with a hole in the hull just months after being written up in Beef Central as an example of the world's highest standards!
On 26 November 2021, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) made a decision in response to the application by Emanuel Exports Pty Ltd and EMS Rural Exports to suspend the licences until today, 3 December 2021.
The AAT found that Emanuel Exports Pty Ltd did cease to be a body corporate of integrity but that Emanuel Exports Pty Ltd has now sufficiently rehabilitated itself so as to resume its status as a body corporate of integrity.
How reassuring that Emanuel Exports is now sufficiently rehabilitated.