Australia approves re-export of sheep after horrific time at sea

Animal News : New footage shows 16,000 animals stuck on ship in Australia
16,000 animals behind metal bars in Australia, credit: still from video Australian Broadcasting Corporation

In a controversial move, the agriculture department in Australia has approved the re-export of thousands of sheep who were stranded at sea for six weeks aboard the livestock carrier MV Bahijah.

The request for re-export came from Bassem Dabbah, an Israeli firm that owns the animals, and received the Australian government’s green light, which outraged the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Australia.

The organization condemned the decision, highlighting it as “a dark day in the history of this cruel and unfixable (live animal export) trade.”

Initially leaving from Australia to Israel on January 5, the MV Bahijah had to return to Western Australia’s Fremantle Port by the end of the month due to security issues in the Red Sea. After a two-week deliberation by local authorities, the animals were taken off the ship. By then they had been on the ship for 6 weeks, covered in their feces.

The ship carried 14,000 sheep and 2,000 cows. Four cows and 64 sheep died during the journey.

14000 sheep will leave Australia

After being on land for only two weeks, the animals face another difficult journey, this time rerouted via the Cape of Good Hope, intensifying concerns over their welfare. In Israel, the animals will be slaughtered to produce kosher meat.

Suzie Fowler of the RSPCA criticized the decision of the Australian government, emphasizing the risks and unpredictability of live animal exports.

Fowler also questioned the live animal export industry’s standards of animal welfare, which seem to contrast with scientific animal welfare standards.

She expressed disgust over the conditions onboard, where animals are kept for a long period of time in cramped, unhygienic spaces.

“In what world is it acceptable to keep animals standing in their own waste for 30+ days? In what world is it acceptable to force them to endure motion sickness, heat stress and constant noise and light? And in what world is it acceptable to, just weeks later, make them do it all again?”

The RSPCA said that the approval for this re-export should never have been granted, calling for an end to the live animal export trade that, last year alone, saw over a million Australian animals shipped overseas.

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