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Sheep ship Al Kuwait gets OK to depart after Animals Australia court bid fails

Christian Fernsby ▼ | June 17, 2020
Animals Australia's attempt to stop the live export of tens of thousands of sheep from Western Australia to the Middle East during the summer heat on board the Al Kuwait has failed.
Al Kuwait
Sheep   Al Kuwait
The animal advocacy group claimed the Department of Agriculture's exemption was unlawful and took their case to the Federal Court.

Topics: Sheep Australia

WA Premier Mark McGowan said on Tuesday he had been informed the Federal Court had ruled the ship could leave and would depart Fremantle on Wednesday as he had expected.

Mr McGowan called for an independent vet to be on board the ship when it left and said the Commonwealth’s flip-flopping on the live-export decision had been “debilitating and inconsistent”.

Sheep have already been loaded onto the ship.

Animals Australia spokeswoman Lynn White said the organisation accepted the Federal Court’s decision, but were disappointed.

"Our position remains that had the department had all available expert evidence before it, this exemption would not have been granted," she said.

"The reason this legislation was introduced was to ensure commercial interests were no longer put before animal welfare. This is the public expectation, which is why there was such dismay on the granting of this exemption."

Ms White said there were no exceptional circumstances to justify putting 50,000 sheep at risk of heat stroke.

The exporter’s second application detailed an alternative approach for managing the voyage, including animal welfare.

The exemption includes strict measures to protect the health and welfare of the sheep, including:

Utilising the livestock vessel the Al Kuwait, a purpose built livestock carrier

Unloading at one port only

Not loading an area of the vessel known to be hotter due to engine room location

Limiting the weight of the sheep loaded on the vessel, focussing on those sheep most well adapted to tolerating heat

Providing additional pen area over that currently required on any livestock voyage and which exceeds those required under the updated Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock.

The federal government imposed a ban this year on the trade of all live sheep to the Middle East between June 1 and mid-September – the northern summer – following the Awassi Express disaster where thousands of sheep died on board from heat stress.