Aus­tralia re­stricts live sheep ex­ports

Viet Nam News - - ASIA -

SYDNEY — Hor­rific footage of dead and dy­ing sheep on ships bound for the Mid­dle East has prompted sweep­ing re­forms to Aus­tralia’s live ex­port trade, but Can­berra stopped short of an out­right ban yes­ter­day.

Video images taken last year showed heat-stricken sheep crammed to­gether in small, sti­fling pens and cov­ered in ex­cre­ment, shock­ing the Aus­tralian pub­lic when it was re­leased by an­i­mal ac­tivists in April.

Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud yes­ter­day la­belled the footage “dis­grace­ful” but re­sisted calls to out­law live ex­ports en­tirely af­ter a gov­ern­ment review.

“There will be no ban to the live sheep trade in the Mid­dle East­ern sum­mer,” he told re­porters.

“How­ever, as a re­sult of this review, we will be mak­ing se­ri­ous and mean­ing­ful change to the in­dus­try.”

Ex­porters will now be re­quired to in­crease cargo space for sheep by up to 39 per cent, vary­ing ac­cord­ing to sea­sonal tem­per­a­ture.

In­de­pen­dent ob­servers will also have to travel on all ships car­ry­ing cat­tle or sheep.

Com­pa­nies in breach of the new rules could face fines of AUD4.2 mil­lion (US$3.1 mil­lion) and di­rec­tors jailed for up to 10 years.

An­i­mal wel­fare ac­tivists ac­cused the gov­ern­ment of “dou­ble stan­dards” on an­i­mal pro­tec­tion, calling for a ban on live ex­ports.

“If you leave a dog in a hot car (in Aus­tralia) you are pros­e­cuted and you po­ten­tially go to jail,” said Lyn White from An­i­mals Aus­tralia, the ad­vo­cacy group that re­leased the shock­ing video.

“If you put tens-of-thou­sands of live sheep on a ves­sel that turns into an oven it’s called a busi­ness,” she added to Sky News.

White said the gov­ern­ment was putting in­dus­try ahead of science in con­tin­u­ing with the live trade, a sec­tor she branded an “eth­i­cal abom­i­na­tion”.

But a key agri­cul­tural lobby group wel­comed the review’s recommendations as a “cru­cial first step” to­ward re­form­ing the in­dus­try.

“We sup­port the fu­ture of the trade but there ab­so­lutely must be mean­ing­ful change,” Na­tional Farm­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Fiona Sim­son said.

“Change that in­creases over­sight and trans­parency, fa­cil­i­tates con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment and most im­por­tantly, up­holds an­i­mal wel­fare to the stan­dard ex­pected by all rea­son­able Aus­tralians.”

Aus­tralia’s live an­i­mal ex­port trade, worth more than AUD800 mil­lion an­nu­ally, has been un­der scru­tiny in re­cent years af­ter footage shot at off­shore abat­toirs showed cat­tle be­ing mis­treated. — AFP

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