Animals nearly a month at sea on ship destined for Israel

Animal News : Animals nearly a month at sea on ship destined for Israel
Ship carrying 16,000 animals off the coast of Australia, credit: still from video Australian Broadcasting Corporation

A ship carrying around 16,000 animals is stranded at sea off the coast of Australia in extreme heat as of Monday. The 14,000 sheep and 2,000 cows have been cramped together on the ship for almost a month.

“These animals have already gone through 24 days at sea, potential heat stress, poor ventilation, standing in their own waste. They’d be extremely stressed,” said Rebecca Tapp from the animal welfare organization Stop Live Exports.

The vessel left Australia on January 5 for Israel, where it was to unload, but deviated from its course due to the threat of attack by Yemen’s Houthi militia. 

The Australian government ordered the ship to return home, and it has been off the coast of Western Australia for two days.

Animals back to Israel

Industry officials and the government are debating whether to send the ship on a month-long journey to Israel around Africa, avoiding the Red Sea, or to unload the animals, who would then have to be quarantined.

“We’d like to see them taken off the ship and processed here in W.A. (Western Australia). Leaving them on there any longer and certainly the idea of sending them back to sea for 33 days is inhumane,” Tapp said.

Farm and exporter groups claim the animals on board the ship Bahijah are in good health despite local temperatures nearing 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

“We’ve been asking state government, the federal government, what the plan is. It appears at the moment there is no coherent plan,” said Ben Caeve from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Live animal transport

Australia sends hundreds of thousands of live animals to the Middle East each year. The conditions on the ships are hellish, and the animals are usually slaughtered upon arrival. The Red Sea is the primary maritime route between Europe and Asia.

In 2023, New Zealand banned live animal transports by sea due to animal welfare concerns.

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