The live export of sheep to the Middle East during summer is set to continue after a comprehensive review of the industry found regulatory measures to reduce heat stress introduced in 2020 had been “effective”. Handing down its findings on September 16, the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry found mortality rates had “stabilised” at an average of 0.2 per cent per voyage in recent years. It comes after regulatory measures to mitigate heat stress were introduced in 2018 and an “absolute prohibition period” during the hottest, most humid part of the Northern Hemisphere summer — June 1 to September 14 — was introduced in 2020. Increased pen space allowances, automated watering systems and a heat stress management plan were among the measures introduced alongside the “summer ban”. The Department found such a ban “remained appropriate,” however, it could be shortened while maintaining the welfare of exported sheep for Qatar, Oman and destinations to, or through, the Red Sea. The Department recommended Oman’s prohibition be reduced by a month, from May 8 to a new date of August 14 — back from September 15 — and stoppages of exports to the Red Sea reduced by three weeks to September 7. It also recommended a conditional prohibition period for some Persian Gulf destinations to be introduced and minimum feeding standards to mitigate the risk of heat stress and improve animal welfare. The review analysed the 15 voyages which travelled to the Middle East during the Northern Hemisphere summer from 2019 to 2021, together with climate data from the Bureau of Meteorology. No deaths due to heat stress were recorded, but sheep were visibly impacted by heat on nine out of 15 of the trips, according to the findings. Since 2018, the Department found there had been a 77.5 per cent reduction in sheep mortality rates during the entire Northern Hemisphere summer — May 1 to October 31. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese went to the election promising to ban the trade, which has been criticised by animal welfare groups but generates thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in export revenue. But Mr Albanese said the phase out would not happen during this term of parliament, which is expected to run until 2025.