Australia finally allows sheep to leave ship after six weeks at sea

Australia finally allows sheep to leave ship after six weeks at sea

Australia has finally started unloading thousands of sheep from the ship MV Bahijah on Monday after nearly six weeks at sea.

The ship, carrying the animals to Israel, departed Australia on January 5 but was forced to return due to security concerns in the Red Sea. 

At the end of January, the ship returned to Fremantle Port in Western Australia. Local authorities debated whether to allow the animals to disembark or be returned to Israel. 

Returning to Israel via a different route would mean the animals would have been at sea for another 30 days, which animal welfare organizations called unacceptable and extremely cruel to the animals, who were cramped together on the ship. 

The ship carried 14,000 sheep and 2,000 cows onboard. Most animals would have their throats slit upon arrival in Israel to produce kosher meat.

According to Australia’s Agriculture Ministry, four cows and 60 sheep had died on the ship since it departed at the beginning of January. It added that unloading would take several days, and the animals would be quarantined according to Australian biosecurity rules. 

The exporter, the Israeli company Bassem Dabbah, which owns the animals, is considering its options. There is a chance the animals will still be sent back to Israel on another ship.

“We would be extremely alarmed if there was any proposal to re-export them at a future time. They’ve suffered enough,” animal welfare organization RSPCA Australia said in a statement.

Last year, Australia exported over a million live animals overseas as part of its live animal export industry.

While animals are being offloaded from the MV Bahijah, the live animal export ship Jawan departed from Australia for the Jordanian port of Aqaba 11 days ago, carrying around 60,000 sheep.

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