Livestock

Sheep export heat worry

By Country News

Animal activists have slammed the live export regulator for refusing to ban sheep shipments to the Middle East between May and October.

The Agriculture Department has confirmed an industry-led moratorium on shipments between June and August will be made permanent later this year.

The Australian Live Exporters’ Council has backed the decision, but animal activists are up in arms over what they argue is a capitulation to exporters.

RSPCA senior policy officer Jed Goodfellow said the government’s own panel had proven conditions onboard ships to the Middle East routinely exceeded heat stress thresholds between May and October.

‘‘Both humidity levels and death rates rise in September. If the department says it has the evidence to stop exports from June to August, it certainly has the evidence to do so for September as well,’’ she said.

‘‘It appears the only difference is the department has the industry’s blessing to stop June to August; it doesn’t for May, September and October.’’

The department has agreed to support all 49 recommendations stemming from a review of Australian livestock export standards.

The review recommended requiring more space for livestock and the application of a heat stress risk assessment to all voyages crossing the equator.

A department spokesman told reporters Animals Australia chief executive Glenys Oogjes accused the department of capitulating to the industry.

‘‘The Australian public was promised that decisions would be based on the science. Had that been the case, there would be no shipments during May,’’ she said.

Livestock Exporters’ Council chief executive Mark Harvey-Sutton, welcomed the review’s recommendations earlier in the week.

‘‘Exporters are showing a willingness to drive positive change to secure a sustainable future for the livestock export industry and to ensure producers who rely on the trade have certainty and confidence for the future,’’ he said.