Documents obtained under FOI show that on 21st April 2016, the exporter NACC sent their report in to the government regarding a high mortality voyage carrying cattle from Townsville to Vietnam in March 2016 (1.42% mortality; Report 61). The unseasonable weather pre-export was given as the precipitating factor. The report stated that “the most significant and principal cause was around a 1 in 5 year rainfall event that occurred in the 3-4 days immediately prior to the voyage commencing”. NACC advised the following “NACC will also review our policies around monitoring weather patterns to prepare for adverse conditions and we will work closely with existing quarantine facilities to ensure conditions for livestock are best should bad weather eventuate”.
Just over a month later, on 27th May 2016, a NACC consignment left the other side of the country (Geraldton) after less than ideal pre-export conditions. The government report (Report 64) stated that “628 cattle were held at Premises A for more than 30 days….The area received greater than average rainfall in April…the wet conditions in the area were exacerbated with more than 90% of the rainfall of May falling within three days prior to the departure date of the consignment…”…Sound familiar?…..Deja vu for Voyage 61?? The report continued “According to the exporter, the wet conditions softened the hooves and this resulted in infection, lameness and later some secondary illness including pneumonia causing 5 mortalities in Premises A.” [Note this was BEFORE loading]. 13/15 shipboard mortalities were from Premises A. The government report concluded that “the cold and wet conditions and a prolonged stay of cattle in Premises A (up to 40 days) may have contributed to the lameness, downers and subsequent mortalities during the voyage".
Wow….if the government didn't comment on the similarities between the voyages or ask what could have been done differently to prevent the second high mortality voyage, we can hardly criticise the exporters.