Animal activists’ port actions condemned

Zach RelphCountryman
WA Livestock Exporters’ Association chairman John Cunnington.
Camera IconWA Livestock Exporters’ Association chairman John Cunnington. Credit: Sharon Smith

WA’s sheep sector has slammed Animals Australia’s failed attempt to keep a Middle East-destined ship carrying 56,000 sheep at Fremantle Port — the last voyage before a three-month recess.

Last Wednesday, the animal activist group sought to stop the Wellard-owned MV Ocean Drover from departing the State’s shores for Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

The Rural Export and Trading WA trip remained in limbo for two days, giving the company less than 48 hours to respond to Animals Australia’s 700-page legal submission, before the green light was granted. RETWA lodged its response on Thursday evening.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources issued RETWA with its export permit on Saturday, with the MV Ocean Drover setting sail on Sunday as intended at 6.25pm.

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WA Livestock Exporters’ Association chairman John Cunnington said the disruption was unnecessary.

“At the end of the day, it was taking away resources that are trying to make sure the ship goes successful as possible,” he said.

“I have no doubt that RETWA and their help were able to make sure the ship went away as best as possible but it takes a lot of resources to respond to a 700-page report within 48 hours.”

Kuwait Livestock Transport and Trading, RETWA’s parent company, had chartered the MV Ocean Drover from Wellard for the shipment.

It was the last voyage before the three-month northern hemisphere summer moratorium on shipping live sheep to the Middle East, starting this Saturday and finishing on August 31.

WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan joined the State’s sheep industry in lashing Animals Australia’s attempt to stop the MV Ocean Drover from departing.

“This is not a constructive way to deal with issues in the live export industry,” she said.

“A last-minute attempt to stop the shipment just causes chaos, and creates a whole new potential animal welfare issue for the sheep that are in a feedlot awaiting export.”

Ahead of the shipment, The Sheep Collective hosted about 40 sheep producers and DAWR representatives aboard the MV Ocean Drover.

The vessel tour was a part of the group’s ongoing bid to make the live sheep industry more transparent.

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