March 2014 News
Vets Against Live Export

DAFF admits there was no accredited stockman

Twelve months of letters and prompting emails to the Department of Agriculture has finally resulted in an admission from them that, contrary to the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL), there was no accredited stockman on a high mortality voyage from Port Kembla to Madagascar in Dec 2007. The investigation report on this high mortality voyage (High Mortality Voyage 25) makes no mention of this breach, just as the report on High Mortality Voyage 29 fails to mention a similar breach that occurred on the Hereford Express in 2008.
We are now attempting to find out why DAFF chose not to prosecute nor apply any penalties to the exporters in this case. DAFF has told us that the exporter no longer holds a licence but this is contrary to claims on the exporter’s website that they are exporting dairy cattle. In addition, the exporters do not have to have a current licence in order to be prosecuted for breach of Australian law.
Watch this space but don't hold your breath ... it could take another 1–2 years to get a response!

A familiar pattern: no response from Dr Paul Grimes

Thank you to all those who wrote to Dr Paul Grimes (Secretary, Department of Agriculture) in December, supporting VALE’s request that DAFF suspend Livestock Shipping Service’s licence and issue them with a "show cause" notice, requiring them to explain how animals ended up outside ESCAS-approved destination and facilities.

Needless to say, no show cause notice was issued, and LSS, despite further breaches (including some under current investigation), continues to operate. Yep, its business as usual. Albeit, there have been a couple of uncharacteristic loading delays recently in both Adelaide and Fremantle.
Interestingly, Dr Grimes has not responded to VALE but VALE members whose emails arrived when Dr Grimes was “on leave” received a response from the Acting Secretary Mr Phillip Glyde. Wonder if he is in trouble for responding to VALE!

The heat stress horror continues

Livestock Shipping Services chose to transport sheep from Amberley feedlot in Kojonup WA to Fremantle Port for loading on a 44 degree day in January. VALE duly commented on this in the media.
Shortly after this, the high mortality voyage investigations were released. We learned that by far the most serious of these voyages was a voyage on the Bader III (again Livestock Shipping Services) with over 3000 sheep dying on one day in a heat crash and 4179 (5.53%) dying overall. These heat crashes have been a feature of the industry for over 30 years and were investigated in some detail back in the 1990s. VALE alerted the media to the fact.
DAFF’s response was to make LSS carry 10% less stock on the Bader for the next voyage (in the cooler conditions in November) and when no high mortality occurred, take credit for it!

To overstocking and lack of independent vets

A federal court has heard that vets are pressured to under-report deaths and that overstocking of live export voyages is routine. Evidence from experienced live export veterinarians was provided to substantiate this. The Federal Minister of Agriculture has acknowledged that he is aware that this evidence has been provided to the court.

From overseas ...

40 sheep died in UK on one voyage and the director of animal export company Channel Livestock was fined and given a suspended prison sentence (6 months) for causing unnecessary suffering to animals (see our blog). Naturally we applaud the finding and the sentencing. The contrast between this incident and the scale and frequency of animal welfare abuse that occurs in the much larger Australian live export trade, with its much longer voyages and extreme conditions, could not be more marked. Our government does nothing, our judges are dismissive and our animal welfare groups struggle for “standing” to even represent their case in an Australian court.

VALE paper still third-most downloaded

Five months after its release online, VALE’s paper on Heat stress in Live Export Voyages is still the third-most downloaded paper in The Veterinary Journal in the last 90 days. It was recently cited in the RSPCA's Animal Welfare Science Update January 2014.

Membership renewal

We have been heartened by all the membership renewals and recent new memberships to VALE. If you have overlooked renewing your membership or mislaid the membership renewal letter, feel free to contact us for bank details for membership fees.
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