Australian Government Refuses Israeli Livestock Export Request

Decision sparks debate on animal welfare and trade routes in maritime industry.


Australian Government Declines Israeli Livestock Exporter’s Request for Lengthy Voyage, Leaving Alternative Options Open

The Australian government has declined a request from an Israeli livestock exporter to embark on a month-long voyage carrying approximately 14,000 sheep and hundreds of cattle to Israel via Africa earlier this week. The decision came after the vessel, Bahijah, departed Australia for Israel on January 5 but was recalled over a week into the journey when it diverted towards South Africa, opting to avoid the Red Sea route.

Docked in Fremantle port, Western Australia, the ship awaited a decision from the Australian government regarding its proposed alternative route to the Middle East. Several hundred cattle were unloaded, with a small number reported to have perished subsequently.

On February 6, the Department of Agriculture announced its inability to ascertain whether export and import requirements could be met or if transport arrangements ensured the livestock’s health and welfare to their final destination. However, the department stated that various options remain available to the exporter, with readiness to assess any future applications submitted.

Unconfirmed local reports suggest the exporting company, Bassem Dabbah, intends to prepare the sheep and a portion of the cattle for re-export to Israel after a 5-10 day rest period ashore.

Veterinary organization Vets Against Live Export (VALE) condemned the proposal, citing documented risks of prolonged animal transport, stressing that even a short break would constitute cruelty.

The RSPCA echoed concerns, advocating for the humane processing of the animals in Australia, expressing alarm at the prospect of future re-exportation.

The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) emphasized animal welfare as its top priority and expressed disappointment at misinformation spread by activist groups and politicians, while condemning the politicization of the issue. ALEC underscored the vessel’s inability to exercise freedom of navigation due to security threats and cautioned against leveraging the situation to advocate for a ban on live sheep exports, citing the significance of food security amid ongoing regional conflicts.

As the situation unfolds, stakeholders are urged to prioritize animal welfare and navigate through the challenges with diligence and responsibility.

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