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.
Young Tahlia McSwain from WA would have had no idea that when she signed on with KLTT to sail with the Al Messilah in April that she would end up being unable to get home from Qatar, thanks to COVID,, and instead be shipped off to South Africa.
Denied sailing from Australia during the northern summer due to animal welfare risks, Al Messilah headed off to South Africa to transport sheep from there instead. Apparently not a thought for the sheep or for the young Aussie woman stuck onboard.
Tahlia’s podcast revealed a young Australian putting on a brave face and trying to make the best of a bad situation: lockdown onboard the Al Messilah, far from family, friends and fiancé, with uncertainty about what would happen to her.
Tahlia stated: "Australia puts a ... not a ban, but they don’t export sheep to the Middle East between the months of June and September because it is far too hot there to discharge the sheep.” She is about to find out that the northern summer ban isn't because it's too hot to discharge but because sheep die of heat stress on the ship.
KLTT (Al Mawashi) battled out the court cases, appeal after appeal, till they ran out of judges (and got an acting judge) and finally won permission to sail from South Africa into the northern hemisphere summer. 56,000 60-70kg ewes, wethers and rams, fat from prolonged feedlotting and generously covered with wool (which would not be permitted under ASEL) sailing into one of the worst months of the year.
One hopes that this company will be providing Tahlia not only with technical support but with the psychological support she might need. Months away from home, in lock down on a ship and now a likely battle with heat stress ahead.
Tahlia, if you need support, we are here and we never leak confidential information from any AAV or stockperson.
Well, the exporters are delighted and Federal O'Connor MP Rick Wilson will soon undertake a Live Export Update tour of his electorate joined by The Livestock Collective's Dr Holly Ludeman. They are keen to overturn the Northern Summer moratorium.
So...how good was it on this understocked "state of the art" ship that had carefully selected in-spec sheep (if we are to believe David Hazlehurst)....well the IO report is out....
-28 deaths but inexplicably another 155 sheep just totally disappeared from the manifold
-28 deaths but only 20 got a PM....were the others too autolysed after heat stress?
-trauma and crush injuries...attributed to feedlot procedures.....hmmm what about the bad weather on departure??? Either way, not a good look
-3 late pregnant ewes were identified and four lambs born....wow they must have been closely scrutinised and supervised during loading given late pregnant sheep not allowed to travel
- pens near the engine hotter despite the purported brilliant ventilation
- intervention required to prevent pen flooding
AND HEAT STRESS:
All sheep suffered some level of heat stress! At the maximum wet bulb temperature of 32C, using the government scoring system there were 3% of sheep at score 4 (DISTRESS)), 12% at score 3 (SEVERE DISCOMFORT), 84% at score 2 (DISCOMFORT) and 1% at score 1. Oh yes....and boggy pads...a sure sign that sheep cannot thermoregulate....
If thats as good as it gets.....????
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the new footage by Animals Australia taken inside Indonesian abattoirs show Australian cattle being tied up by the mouth, dragged around a slaughter house by rope while alive and slaughtered while fully conscious, breaching rules introduced to protect exported Australian animals from cruelty.
The footage, taken in Australian-approved abattoirs in Aceh, shows a steer being tripped onto a concrete slab, tied up around its mouth while its throat is cut and dragged while alive by the rope by one man, while another two men help drag it by its tail across the abattoir floor.
The Livestock Collective's Objective #3 is to “Provide visibility and increase awareness so that every person feels like they have a connection and understanding of the livestock industry.”
Seems like Animals Australia is helping them with that.
Around 3,000 sheep have died of hunger and thirst after a shipment from Sudan was rejected by Saudi Arabia due to compromised quarantine procedures.History repeating itself.....
Over the years, more than 10 Australian live export shipments have also been rejected with catastrophic animal welfare outcomes. The 2003 Cormo Express disaster was one of the worst: 58,000 sheep rejected because Saudi Arabia alleged there was scabby mouth cases onboard. The Govt had to buy the sheep (with taxpayer money) and then frantically approach over 30 nations to take the animals. Meanwhile, sheep suffered and died, with the survivors eventually unloaded in Eritrea 80 days later. 6,000 sheep died, and the Govt paid Eritrea $1 million (more taxpayer money) to take the survivors.
After the Cormo Express, the Govt set up MOUs with importing countries to ensure animals would be unloaded regardless of disputes. The MOUs failed. In 2012, Bahrain rejected 22,000 sheep on board the Ocean Drover, refusing to unload the animals despite the MOU. After another scramble to find a country to accept them, the sheep were shipped to Pakistan with 22000 sheep escaping ESCAS control and being brutally slaughtered
Saudi Arabia , the repeat shipment rejection offender (rejecting 11 Australian shipments in 1989-1990 alone), also rejected ESCAS but only a few weeks ago, ALEC said work was underway between the Australian and Saudi Arabian governments to resume live export, and he hoped a “positive” decision will be announced in the next few months. Are we about to undertake a new regulatory experiment even though Australia's boxed meat trade with this unpredictable importing nation is now worth about the same as the Australian live sheep export trade?
There is no regulatory system that would ensure acceptable animal welfare outcomes once animals have left our shores, and there's no justification for continuing to ignore public opinion: A majority (76%) of submissions made to the Keniry review in 2003 expressed views opposing live export, and a 2018 RSPCA poll indicated around 75 percent of Australians are opposed to the trade.
Barbabic slaughter and continued use of Mark 1 boxes.....sure the images are from Animals Australia but it is 2020 and not 2011...when ESCAS was introduced to prevent just that.
ABC News reports ALEC's chief executive Mark Harvey-Sutton as saying the latest images from Indonesia of roped slaughter of Australian cattle, without stunning were distressing and suggested that it was due to inexperienced staff (because that explains Mark 1 boxes!).
How many times does ALEC have to be “distressed” after the fact before the government recognises ESCAS for what it is - an animal welfare failure. And how is it that AA continues to be the unpaid independent auditor for this industry that is essentially allowed to self-regulate?
Australians were outraged in 2011, and they are outraged today - outraged that the government consistently refuses to audit ESCAS facilities itself or penalise exporters for ESCAS breaches. If this trade is to continue, then it must be FIXED!
See also: https://www.sheepcentral.com/livestock-exporters-target-red-tape-and-regulatory-overkill/