15 July, 2020
Middle East live sheep moratorium could be shortened, says RETWA
A recent Middle East live sheep shipment indicated there was a case for shortening the current Northern Summer moratorium, according to the exporter Rural Export and Trading WA (RETWA).
Last week, state of the art livestock export vessel MV Al Kuwait discharged about 35000 sheep in Kuwait after gaining an exemption to the Federal Government’s moratorium that currently runs from June to September 22. RETWA Managing Director Mike Gordon said the purpose-built vessel had delivered excellent results as part of a well-planned consignment.
"I think there is a case for shortening the moratorium under certain conditions" Mr Gordon said.
The exporter reported that 28 sheep (0.08 per cent) died on the voyage, with no mortalities attributed to heat stress.
The RSPCA has since claimed the vessel experienced wet bulb temperatures of up to 32 degrees in a 24-hour period as it travelled through the Straits of Hormuz.
"190 sheep, or 0.57 percent of stock, were observed with open mouth panting as it travelled through the Straits of Hormuz" an RSPCA representative said.
"Every one of the 35000 sheep on board the Al Kuwait has suffered unnecessarily because the department caved into pressure and backflipped on its initial evidence-based decision."
The RSPCA said that even under significantly reduced stocking densities and reduced wool lengths, sheep would experience prolonged heat stress in climatic conditions where they would be unable to thermoregulate and shed heat.
"Describing this voyage as a 'success' because of reported low mortality rates shows the industry is still clinging to outdated and inaccurate measures of animal welfare" a representative said.
RETWA maintains the exemption would not have been pursued if the science was not available to also support good animal welfare outcomes.