State Government to probe death of 2500 sheep on live export vessel Al Messilah

Headshot of Nick Butterly
Nick ButterlyThe West Australian
The Al Messilah.
Camera IconThe Al Messilah. Credit: Joy Loughnan / Marinetraffic.com

The State Government is to make a rare intervention into the live export trade, launching an investigation into a disastrous voyage to the Middle East last year on which almost 2500 sheep died of heat stress.

Figures released by the Federal Government have revealed Perth-based exporter Emanuel Exports lost close to 4 per cent of a shipment of 63,000 sheep during a run to the Persian Gulf in August.

That follows an horrific incident in 2016 when Emanuel admitted losing about 3000 sheep after the vessel Al Messilah hit a pocket of extreme heat near Doha.

Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said she had written to the director-general of her department to begin an investigation.

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It is the first time in 10 years the State Government has attempted to run an investigation into a live exporter.

Ms MacTiernan said the Solicitor-General had issued advice that there was no impediment to WA conducting its own investigation into the case with a view to potentially bringing charges under local animal welfare laws.

Emanuel managing director Graham Daws confirmed the company lost a lot of sheep during the August voyage because of heat stress.

Mr Daws said the company would hold discussions with Federal agriculture officials in coming days as it sought ways to avoid another large-scale loss of livestock when exporting to the Middle East this year.

In a letter to Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, Ms MacTiernan asked that Federal agencies work with WA officials in their investigation.

Ms MacTiernan said it was important the industry maintained high standards or the public would turn against it.

Late last year, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority slapped a temporary ban on the vessel Al Messilah exporting animals out of Australian waters.

The ship, a converted car carrier, was used by Emanuel in the 2016 incident and is now in Singapore for repairs.

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