Older ships get one year longer on live-export routes

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Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
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Livestock ship Al Shuwaikh pictured in Fremantle Port.
Camera IconLivestock ship Al Shuwaikh pictured in Fremantle Port. Credit: Steve Ferrier

Older ships using a two-tier system for carrying livestock will be able to operate for a year longer than promised in plans to clean up the live sheep export trade, after Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud reneged on bringing the date forward to January next year.

Ships built or converted before 2004 that could not meet minimum air speeds across livestock pens, carried livestock in two tiers, or failed to meet ventilation requirements on open decks were previously able to continue operating until 2023 under grandfathering provisions.

But Mr Littleproud, when issuing his response to the McCarthy review of standards for live sheep exports last month, brought that date forward to January 2019.

His timeframe was at odds with a January 2020 date stated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s recommendations in a draft review, released for public consultation after Mr Littleproud’s announcement. After some in the industry arguedsix months was not long enough to to find alternative capacity, the Government has since brought the date into line with AMSA’s review.

WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the decision was disappointing and demonstrated Mr Littleproud was unaware of how deeply eroded community sentiment was over the live export issue.

“This decision will not help rebuild confidence,” Ms MacTiernan said.

Wellard executive director operations Fred Troncone said his organisation supported the earlier cut-off date because it wanted sub-standard ships to stop operating before the next northern hemisphere summer, if not sooner, given the industry could not afford another high mortality incident.

Three ships operating between Australia and the Middle East are classed as two tier — Al Shuwaikh, operated by Kuwait Livestock Transport and Trading, and the Bader III and Maysora, operated by Livestock Shipping Services.

It is understood KLTT, Australia’s biggest live sheep customer, told Mr Littleproud during recent meetings that the Al Shuwaikh had a proud animal welfare record, and bringing forward the cut-off date for two-tiered vessels only gave exporters six months to find alternative capacity, which was not enough time.

Live sheep exports have been in the spotlight since horrific vision was aired in April of about 2400 sheep dying in extreme heat on a voyage to the Middle East.

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