Live export review recommends reduction of sheep on ships to Middle East

17 May 2018

Live export review recommends reduction of sheep on ships to Middle East

Image credit: Miguel Rojo

Ships carrying sheep to the Middle East during the region’s summer months should make major reductions in the number of livestock onboard, a Government-sanctioned review into the industry has recommended.

The review was set up by Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, after footage surfaced showing around 2500 sheep headed to the Middle East dying of heat stress.

Mr Littleproud said one of the recommendations made by the veterinarian leading the review, Dr Michael McCarthy, is to reduce the density of the stocking model and increase space for the sheep by 39%, by lowering the number of sheep on board.

“In a sweeping change, Dr McCarthy recommended a seismic shift from stocking density based on animal mortality to one based on animal welfare,” Mr Littleproud said.

The Minister said the proposed new stocking model by Dr McCarthy would see a decrease of approximately 30% of sheep per export in the hottest months, which may prompt exporters to upgrade their ships.

“[It] could have the potential merit of giving exporters incentive to improve ventilation and airflow to increase their carrying capacity,” he said.

Dr McCarthy also recommended reducing the livestock mortality rate required for a review of an exporter from 2% to 1%, and implementing strict penalties on companies and indivuals who break export laws.

Under the recommendation, companies would be fined $4.2 million and their directors $2.1 million, with the possibility of a 10-year prison sentence. Individuals convicted of the same violations would face a $420,000 fine and 10 years in jail.

Minister Littleproud said the Government had accepted all of Dr McCarthy’s 23 recommendations, and planned to implement them by the next northern summer.