Following the release of details surrounding the death of thousands of live sheep on route to the Middle East in July 2016, WAFarmers reminds the public that animal welfare is the top priority for the agricultural industry.
Up to 3,000 sheep died from heat related stress while on the live export ship run by Emanuel. The live exporter was provided with wildly incorrect information about weather conditions at the destination which resulted in the ventilation and water system failing to provide adequate refreshment.
Immediately following the incident, the Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources launched a full investigation and determined that due to unforeseen and unusual circumstances, Emanuel had done everything they could in accordance with the ASEL (Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock) and their own hot weather management system contingency plan to prevent loss of life.
WAFarmers Livestock Section President David Slade said animal welfare is the top priority of all exporters in Australia, including Western Australian sheep producers.
“The Western Australian livestock industry takes the issue of animal welfare very seriously, as does the rest of the country, and does not tolerate mistreatment of any kind to any livestock that leaves our shores.
“The public must understand that while technical issues can occur, the extreme humidity experienced over several days resulting in these horrific deaths was not anticipated as the exporter had been given inadequate weather information.
“While there should have been contingency operations in place for such a situation, we acknowledge that the actions of Emanuel staff prevented the loss of more sheep.
“We also understand that this unfortunate incident triggered an immediate and complete review of the ventilation and water contingency management plans for Emanuel and they have since formally updated their management plan for extreme heat events.”
Mr Slade echoed comments from the Minister for Agriculture and Food Alannah MacTiernan, who said that another situation like the live export ban of 2011 as a result of public backlash could not happen again.
“MLA and industry have spent millions of dollars in the research and development space on the best ways of managing heat stress for livestock moving between different climate zones,” he said.
“We recognise the importance of the ongoing trade to the Australian grass fed sector, so we will work to ensure that industry and government are doing everything to safeguard the trade while upholding animal welfare standards.