Live Export FOI Report: Shipment under Licence L024, February 2006 (Roberts Ltd) - MV Al Messilah

Summary of report obtained through FOI by Animals Australia – including possible breaches of Australian Live Export Standards

Devonport, Tasmania to the Middle East (Bahrain, Kuwait & Qatar)

71,309 sheep exported - 1,683 died  (representing 2.36% of sheep loaded);

The AQIS investigation report noted / concluded that the high level of deaths were due to inanition (animals failing to eat) caused by ‘a number of different factors that combined together resulted in an increase in the stress experienced by the sheep’.

The AQIS report noted the following factors:

  • Tasmanian sheep have greater problems with heat stress. Sheep sourced from Tasmania are not as adapted to adverse climatic conditions experienced crossing the equator as sheep sourced from the mainland. 
  • Unfit animals (pink-eye) were allowed to enter the feedlot
  • Disease outbreak – keratoconjunctivitis ‘pink-eye’ developed from day 2 throughout the vessel. The AQIS vet had treated animals in the feedlot for this highly infectious disease.
  • Sub-clinical heat stress over an extended period of time.   The mortalities increased significantly as the temperature and humidity on board increased.
  • Duration of the voyage and multiple discharge ports. (25 day voyage)
  • Inadequate resources to properly maintain the welfare of the sheep.  Treatment of sheep was delayed due to the vet, stockmen, and crew having to focus on welfare issues with the cattle on board.
  • There was inadequate fodder on board – resulting in fodder being rationed at the end of the voyage.

Australian Live Export Standards (ASEL) possibly breached - as revealed by AQIS reports:

Insufficient resources on board - failing to inspect/treat/euthanase sick/injured animals
 
5.2  Any livestock for export identified after loading as being sick or injured must: (a) be given immediate treatment; and (b) be euthanased humanely and without delay, where euthanasia is necessary. 

5.6 Livestock and livestock services on the vessel must be regularly inspected (day and night) to ensure that the health and welfare of the
livestock are maintained while the livestock are on the
vessel:...

(b) Livestock must be systematically inspected to assess their health and welfare...
(d) The pen stocking density must be checked regularly throughout the voyage and adjustments made as required.

5.7 Any livestock identified as being sick or injured must:

(a) be given prompt treatment;
(b) be transferred to a hospital pen, if required; and
(c) if necessary, be euthanased humanely and without delay...

Unfit animals accepted at the feedlot (pinkeye)

1.7 Livestock sourced for export must be fit to travel.... (Rejection criteria includes pink-eye.)

3.13 ...Livestock must be individually inspected at unloading [ie from trucks to the feedlot] to determine whether they are suitable for preparation for export.

3.17  Any livestock identified at unloading as being...unsuitable for export must be...isolated...Criteria for rejection are...in Appendix 3.1 (and include pink-eye)

Fodder had to be rationed at the end of the voyage

 4.14 ...suitable feed to satisfy the energy requirements of the livestock for the duration of the voyage and statutory reserves as specified in Appendix 4.2 must be loaded (Appendix 4.2 includes allowance for a further 3 days ration above the expected duration.

Unfit animals loaded?    

Animals that had pink-eye in the feedlot and had responded to treatment were loaded.  However, this disease is highly contagious and on Day 2 an outbreak of pink-eye spread throughout the vessel, remained untreated due to lack of personnel resources, and is listed by AQIS as a contributing stress factor leading to the deaths. 

S.4.8 ...only livestock that are healthy and fit to travel must be loaded

>> Download FOI report


Live Animal Export Trade—Relevant Legislation


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Federal legislation

Export Control Act 1982 ("EC Act");
Export Control (Orders) Regulations 1982 ("EC Regulations");
Export Control (Animals) Order 2004 ("EC Order");
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997 ("AMLI Act");
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Export Licensing) Regulations 1998 ("AMLI Regulations");
Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Standards) Order 2005 (the "AMLI Standards Order").

A person must not export live-stock without a licence
Section 54 AMLI Act, section 2.02(a) of the EC Act, section 2.02A of the EC Order.

Grant of licence
The Secretary of the Department of Agriculture may grant to a person a licence to export live-stock  (section 10 AMLI Act).  A licence has a duration of at least one year (section 21). A licence may be renewed (section 22 AMLI Act).

"live-stock" is defined as including cattle, sheep and lambs (section 3 AMLI Act).
"export licence" includes a live-stock export licence (section 7 AMLI Act).

Licence Conditions
Section 15 AMLI Act: an export licence is subject to any conditions that are prescribed by the regulations, in addition to the conditions to which an export licence is subject under the AMLI Act.

Section 17 AMLI Act: the Secretary may make orders not inconsistent with the regulations to be complied with by the holders of export licences.  Those orders may make provision with respect to any matter relating to or incidental to the carriage and handling of live-stock...the measure to be taken to ensure compliance with orders made under this section.  Orders made under the section may prohibit (either absolutely or unless particular conditions are complied with) the export or sale for export of live-stock by reference to any one or more of the following (including, relevantly) quality, standard, grade or class and any other matter that the Secretary thinks appropriate and may require the holder of an export licence to obtain prior approval for each export to be made by the holder of the licence, make declarations, give information and send returns.  An export licence is subject to the condition that the holder of the licence must comply with orders made under the section.

The AMLI Standards Order (made under this section) says that that the holder of an export licence must not export live-stock except in accordance with the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock.   Because a licence is subject to the condition that the holder must comply with the orders, non-compliance with any of the relevant Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock is therefore a breach of a condition of licence.

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Sanctions for export licence breaches

Australian Meat & Livestock Industry Act

Section 23  Notice to licence holder to show cause

(1)  If the Secretary has reasonable grounds for believing, in relation to an export licence, that:...

(g)  the holder of the licence has contravened a condition of the licence; the Secretary may give a written notice under this section to the holder of the licence...

(3)  A show cause notice must:

(a) ...state the grounds on which the Secretary formed the belief because of which the notice is given; and...
(b) include a statement to the effect that the holder of the relevant licence may, within 14 days after the day on which the notice is given to the holder, give the Secretary a written statement showing cause why the licence should not be dealt with under subsection 24(1) (and subsection 24(1) gives powers to the Secretary including to cancel a licence, not renew a licence or suspend the licence)

Section 54(3) Intentional or reckless contravention of a licence condition

The holder of an export licence must not contravene a condition of the licence either intentionally or being reckless as to the condition (Penalty: imprisonment for 5 years, or an appropriate fine imposed instead of or in addition to imprisonment, pursuant to subsection 4B(2) of the Crimes Act)


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Relevent state legislation

WA Animal Welfare Act (2002)

19 . Cruelty to animals

(1) A person must not be cruel to an animal.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), a person, whether or not the person is a person in charge of the animal, is cruel to an animal if the person...(e) in any way causes the animal unnecessary harm

(3) Without limiting subsection (1) a person in charge of an animal is cruel to an animal if the animal

(a) is transported in a way that causes, or is likely to cause, it unnecessary harm;
(b) is confined...in a manner that causes or is likely to cause it unnecessary harm...
(d) is not provided with proper and sufficient food or water;
(h) suffers harm which could be alleviated by the taking of reasonable steps;
(j) is in any other way caused unnecessary harm.

 

Tasmanian  Animal Welfare Act (1993)   

7. Management of animals

A person who has the care or charge of an animal must not use a method of management of the animal which is reasonably likely to result in unreasonable and unjustifiable pain or suffering to the animal. Penalty: In the case of –

(a) a body corporate, a fine not exceeding 40 penalty units; or
(b) a natural person, a fine not exceeding 20 penalty units or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, or both.

8. Cruelty to animals

(1) A person must not do any act, or omit to do any duty, which causes or is likely to cause unreasonable and unjustifiable pain or suffering to an animal. Penalty: In the case of –

(a) a body corporate, a fine not exceeding 100 penalty units; or
(b) a natural person, a fine not exceeding 50 penalty units or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or both.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1) a person, whether or not the person is a person in charge of the animal, is cruel to an animal if the person — 

(a) tortures, mutilates, maliciously beats or wounds, abuses, torments, or otherwise ill-treats, the animal;
(b) uses a prescribed inhumane device on the animal;
(c) intentionally or recklessly poisons the animal;
(d) does any prescribed act to, or in relation to, the animal; or
(e) in any other way causes the animal unnecessary harm.

(3) Without limiting subsection (1) a person in charge of an animal is cruel to an animal if the animal — 

(a) is transported in a way that causes, or is likely to cause, it unnecessary harm;
(b) is confined, restrained or caught in a manner that — 

(i) is prescribed; or
(ii) causes, or is likely to cause, it unnecessary harm;

(c) is worked, driven, ridden or otherwise used — 

(i) when it is not fit to be so used or has been over used; or
(ii) in a manner that causes, or is likely to cause, it unnecessary harm;

(d) is not provided with proper and sufficient food or water;
(e) is not provided with such shelter, shade or other protection from the elements as is reasonably necessary to ensure its welfare, safety and health;
(f) is abandoned, whether at the place where it is normally kept or elsewhere;
(g) is subjected to a prescribed surgical or similar operation, practice or activity;
(h) suffers harm which could be alleviated by the taking of reasonable steps;
(i) suffers harm as a result of a prescribed act being carried out on, or in relation to, it; or
(j) is, in any other way, caused unnecessary harm.


 

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