Al Kuwait returning to Fremantle to collect sheep for export

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Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
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The Al Kuwait in Fremantle.
Camera IconThe Al Kuwait in Fremantle. Credit: RICHARD WAINWRIGHT/AAPIMAGE

TheAl Kuwait live export carrier is steaming its way back to Fremantle to collect its first load of WA sheep in almost three months.

The vessel, which had 20 of its 48 crew members test positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Fremantle in May, departed Dubai this week and is set arrive just as the northern hemisphere summer shipping ban ends on September 15.

Ports Minister Alannah MacTiernan said in light of the ship’s history with the virus the last time it was in WA, the Fremantle Port Authority would work with WA Health to ensure the vessel’s reporting is reliable.

“We have strict protocols in place to manage COVID-19 risks at WA ports,” she said.

“All ships’ crews must remain on board while in port, except where undertaking essential servicing duties.

“If crew members must interact with port employees, masks and gloves must be worn and social distancing requirements apply.”

Al Kuwait was stranded in Fremantle for nearly four weeks from late May as COVID-19 affected crew recovered, and the vessel was cleaned.

During that period there were also complications with the sheep it was to export, which were held in a Baldivis quarantine feedlot. The vessel had arrived only a week before the Federal Government’s 3.5 month northern hemisphere shipping ban started on June 1.

Rural Export and Trading WA had to apply for an exemption for the vessel to sale during the ban, which was unsuccessfully challenged by Animals Australia in the courts.

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