Pearl of Para cattle restart Israel trip

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
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The live export industry breathed a sigh of relief yesterday after a shipment of 5240 cattle was given a clean bill of health and allowed to restart its voyage from Fremantle to Israel.

The Pearl of Para left Fremantle Port last night and is anchored in gage roads waiting for rough weather to subside. It docked yesterday to restock with livestock feed and other supplies and is expected to leave today.

It had been anchored in Cockburn Sound for more than a week after a mechanical fault forced the captain to turn back three days into a voyage which started on September 4.

Exporter Alan Schmidt said the cattle were in good shape to resume the 21-day voyage to Israel despite the long delay for repairs, which he estimated had cost his business more than $500,000.

"We want to deliver the livestock in the best possible condition," he said. "They are in fine form now, they are clean, they are warm and they are dry, and we want to keep them that way."

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said the cattle were in "good health" and there had been no mortalities.

RSPCA officers boarded the ship last night and said all cattle appeared to be in good condition and inspectors found no breaches of the Animal Welfare Act.

RSPCA’s Chief Inspector conducted an extensive inspection of the cattle housed across all seven levels of the vessel.

The cattle are in the care of a Government- accredited veterinarian, a stockman and Mr Schmidt's daughter Mimosa, who is on her first live export voyage as a junior stockwoman.

"A DAFF veterinarian and a welfare inspector from the Department of Agriculture and Food WA have inspected the cattle to verify the animal health and welfare status and to ensure the cattle continue to meet the importing country requirements," a DAFF spokesman said.

Israel was WA's most valuable customer for live cattle in 2012-13 with exports worth $41 million.

It is estimated this shipment is worth about $6 million.

The RSPCA and other animal welfare groups said the incident and a previous mechanical failure on the Pearl of Para, which was blamed for the death of hundreds of cattle on a voyage from the US to Russia, highlighted the risks associated with the live export industry.

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