An industry-imposed ban on live sheep export will take effect next year from June for a three month period, to coincide with the Northern Hemisphere summer. This follows the release of footage showing the deaths of more than 2,400 sheep on the Awassi Express last year as a result of a heat wave, and the ensuing public outcry over animal welfare concerns.
As a result of the disaster, the Government commissioned two reviews. One examined whether the trade was viable during summer months when temperatures spike on transport ships. The second found that the Department of Agriculture was failing in its responsibility to protect livestock from suffering abuse while at sea. Three private members bills are before parliament at the moment, proposing the ban of the live export industry. If the Labour Party wins federal elections in 2019 they plan on phasing it out over a five year period.
Delaying the inevitable fate of sheep export?
Animal welfare organisation representatives are critical of the motivations of the Australian Livestock Exporters Council (ALEC) for putting the ban in place. They claim that the ban is a small gesture designed by ALEC to prolong an industry that no longer has a place in the modern world. An industry that has lost the support of the Australian Public.
The live export trade of sheep during the Northern Hemisphere summer is worth approximately $55 million Australian dollars a year. Around 30 percent of Western Australian sheep are destined for live export at present. Cessation of the industry will impact a high number of farmers. ALEC spokesman, Simon Crean, claims that by imposing a moratorium they are able to give those in the industry some certainty in the face of potentially large impacts to their businesses.