Live sheep shipping industry’s test

Zach RelphThe West Australian
The Al Messilah is set to depart Fremantle Port next week carrying about 60,000 sheep.
Camera IconThe Al Messilah is set to depart Fremantle Port next week carrying about 60,000 sheep. Credit: Ian Munro

The first live sheep vessel to sail from Australian shores since the embattled trade was brought to a standstill more than three months ago will depart Fremantle next week.

Rural Export and Trading WA, the Perth-based arm of juggernaut exporter Kuwait Livestock Transport and Trading Company, is scheduled to ship about 60,000 sheep from Fremantle Port aboard the Al Messilah on Monday.

Bound for the Middle East, the vessel’s intended departure is poised to come a day after the extended three-month northern summer moratorium is lifted.

WA Livestock Exporters’ Association chairman John Cunnington said the live sheep shipping resumption was an opportunity to prove the industry was viable and could provide a reliable supply to Middle Eastern customers.

“The trade can now show it is able to do these shipments in a manner that is world-class,” he said.

“For WA to produce the high-quality of livestock that customers have come to know and expect is really important.

“But, in the current climate where customers are now going out and testing other markets, such as Romania or South Africa, this is an extremely important period to show that we can be a reliable source of livestock for the future.”

The three-month live sheep shipping moratorium was enforced on June 1 and initially set to remain in place until August 31.

But the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources last month extended the standstill until September 22, based on the “best available science and evidence”.

The last live sheep consignment from Australian was on May 26 when the Wellard-owned Ocean Drover, chartered by KLTT, departed Fremantle for Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Of the 56,915 sheep shipped, there were 62 deaths to mark a mortality total of 0.11 per cent, with Wellard executive chairman John Klepec hailing it a success.

A decision for next year’s northern hemisphere trade halt is pending.

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