AUSTRALIA’S live export regulator has been urged to direct live sheep exporters to buy back sheep found outside Export Supply Chain Assurance System supply chains in Oman.
Earlier this month, Animals Australia lodged a legal complaint in May with Australia’s live export regulator, the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, over alleged ESCAS breaches in the Arabian Peninsula country.
The animal rights body said today it has lodged a further two legal complaints with DAFF showing that ESCAS breaches have dramatically escalated in Oman, with many more Australian sheep witnessed outside of approved supply chains and the Festival of Sacrifice pending.
Australian Livestock Exoprters Council chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton said ALEC is aware of the new allegations made to the department regarding this issue.
“We are continuing to work with exporters that have sheep in Oman to investigate and remediate supply chain issues and remain in close contact with the regulator in addressing these incidents in Oman.”
Animals Australia said when revisited last week, the livestock vendors and slaughterhouses reported in late May for illegally selling or slaughtering Australian sheep, had increased their numbers of Australian sheep, some by hundreds of animals.
Animals Australia said it had also informed the regulator that a popular Omani marketplace website has numerous listings advertising Australian sheep for individual sale and sacrificial slaughter.
“There are many things that have shocked us in our 20 years investigating the live sheep trade, but to see this situation in Oman dramatically escalate, despite a regulatory direction to exporters, is staggering,” AA chief executive officer Glenys Oogjes said.
“Considering the sensitivities around the live sheep trade, it was our expectation that exporters, acting in their own self-interest, would gather and even repurchase animals from these illegal trading sites.
“Not only have they failed to do so, there are now even more Australian sheep for sale at these locations,” she said.
“The welfare consequences for sheep during the Festival of Sacrifice are well documented and well known by the industry.
“ESCAS was implemented to prevent this exact situation but with the Regulator sitting behind a desk in Canberra, it has always been up to sheep export companies to voluntarily comply,” Ms Oogjes said.
“Not only will Australian sheep bear the consequences of their failure to do so, but such blatant and widespread breaches of regulations will inevitably compel decision makers to consider phasing out the live sheep trade in the shortest possible timeframe.”
Animals Australia said it has again appealed to the regulator to formally direct relevant exporters to urgently rectify this situation and repurchase and return sheep to approved supply chains prior to the Festival of Sacrifice.
The department said it was aware of the latest Oman complaints, but did not address whether it could direct exporters to buy back sheep found outside ESCAS supply chains.
“We don’t comment on specifics while the department continues to investigate this matter,” a DAFF spokesperson said.
“Our statement continues to provide our public response https://www.agriculture.gov.au/about/news/statement-on-allegations-of-non-compliance-with-the-ESCAS-Oman.”