The AUSTRALIAN body responsible for live animal exports and sheep producers has welcomed the Department of Agriculture’s reaction to the final report of its review of sheep shipments to the Middle East around the Northern Summer period. .
The review concluded that the regulatory parameters introduced in 2020 reduced, but did not eliminate, the risk of heat stress for sheep exported to the Middle East and improved animal welfare outcomes.
The review also concluded that to maintain the welfare of exported sheep, an absolute blackout period during the hottest and wettest part of the Northern Hemisphere summer should be maintained – June to mid -September for most markets. He also recommended that a conditional blackout period at the end of May for certain Persian Gulf destinations be introduced.
Last week, the department said that several new wellness recommendations from the review would be adopted, but the date-related recommendations to reduce the blackout period during the northern hemisphere summer to certain destinations where the risk of heat stress is less than previously thought will not be implemented.
“As Usual” – ALEC
Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief executive Mark Harvey-Sutton said the publication of the report represents the status quo for the Australian live sheep export industry.
“In fact, the report confirms the conditions set out in the interim orders issued by the Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture in April this year.
“While there are aspects of these orders with which industry does not fully agree based on industry evidence, it is important to note that DAFF has taken a scientific and evidence-based approach. to define those conditions,” he said.
“Regardless of these differences, the report identifies that there are clearly times when shipping live sheep can safely take place without the risk of heat stress, and it also recognizes the exemplary performance of the industry, particularly at the over the past five years.”
Mr Harvey-Sutton said there had been mixed reactions from trade opponents over the implications of the report.
“Ultimately, this report rightly gives the seal of approval for the trade in live sheep to continue in a safe and sustainable manner, contributing to the food security of important geopolitical partners in the Middle East.
“We remain committed to working with the Australian Government and will continue to highlight the facts about the industry’s animal welfare performance and the importance of the trade to Australian producers and our trading partners,” he said. he declares.
Animals Australia cautiously welcomes the department’s decision
Animals Australia has cautiously welcomed the Federal Department of Agriculture’s decision to maintain the summer ban on live sheep exports to some of the most popular destinations in the Middle East.
“With the RSPCA and the Australian Veterinary Association, we have advocated that a ban period from May to October inclusive is necessary to prevent animal suffering and death from heat stress, which science clearly shows as inevitable,” said Glenys Oogjes, CEO of Animals Australia.
“We look forward to the Labor government fulfilling its election pledge to phase out this industry.
“The Australian community has made it clear that the continuation of this cruel industry is intolerable,” Ms Oogjes said.
Report identifies safe export times – Sheep Producers Australia
Bonnie Skinner, chief executive of Australian Sheep Farmers, said that since 2018 the live animal export industry and its regulatory framework have undergone significant change, demonstrating the industry’s unwavering commitment to to improve.
“The report confirms the conditions outlined in the Interim Orders issued by the Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture in April this year and identifies that there are times when the shipment of live sheep can safely take place without risk. of heat stress.
“It is paramount that any future regulatory agreement be based on evidence, data and supported by solid science,” she said.
“The Middle East is a region of particular strategic importance for the sheep industry. Our markets for Australian live sheep in the Middle East remain critical to the success of Western Australian sheep producers.
“The current regulations present challenges for Australian producers to compete in a changing global market, and for exporters to supply those markets economically and competitively,” Ms Skinner said.
“It is important to continue to work collaboratively with government and stakeholders to ensure the sustainability of the industry.”
Several recommendations to improve animal welfare
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said the review made several recommendations to improve or maintain animal welfare. These included that sheep should be fed daily at a minimum of 3 percent of their live weight when on vessels traveling to or through the Middle East during non-prohibited periods in the summer of the northern hemisphere and that each vessel exporting sheep should deploy at least 1 data logger on deck to record the ambient wet bulb temperature. This is in addition to the requirement for environmental registration on bridges containing sheep under the current rules. These recommendations will be implemented by the department, the DAFF said.
In undertaking the review, the department took into account an updated climatological analysis based on 42 years of accumulated data from the Bureau of Meteorology, health and welfare information and mortality data from 15 trips which took place during the Northern Hemisphere summer months from 2019 to 2021, an analysis of data from environmental data loggers placed on the sheep’s decks and feedback from stakeholders.
Albania’s Labor government has pledged to phase out live sheep exports, but not during its first term, and has yet to set an official timetable.
Click on here to read the final report on Nordic summer exports.