Last bid to save live exports

Zach Relph and Cally DupeCountryman
The livestock transport ship Awassi Express at the centre of current live export controversy parked at Fremantle Port.
Camera IconThe livestock transport ship Awassi Express at the centre of current live export controversy parked at Fremantle Port. Credit: The Sunday Times, Justin Benson-Cooper

WA livestock carriers, sheep producers and agricultural lobby groups have met with Federal animal welfare regulator officials in a last-ditch bid to spare the live- export trade from harsh shipping proposals, flagged to shut down the industry.

Countryman can reveal three Department of Agriculture and Water Resources staff travelled from Canberra to Perth for a series of meetings with industry figureheads, including WAFarmers and Pastoralists and Graziers Association, yesterday regarding the live sheep sector’s future.

The trio were also set to meet with sheep producers on farms near Perth to discuss DAWR’s controversial heat-stress risk assessment draft report, released on December 13, and the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock review.

Speaking with Countryman before the meetings, Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook said the lobby group would reiterate why live- sheep shipping was imperative to the State’s economy.

“We were told discussions would focus on the impact on a closure of the trade to WA,” he said.

“If they go ahead with what they’ve proposed and close the trade for six months, that’s it, it will be done and dusted.”

DAWR’s visit to WA comes ahead of what is expected to be a turbulent time for the live-sheep industry once the anticipated ASEL document, due to be released this month, is announced.

The proposed heat-stress standards for Middle East-destined voyages will form a component of the new-look ASEL report, potentially enforcing a 28C wet bulb temperature limit and extending the northern hemisphere summer trading halt from May to October, instead of June to August.

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