THE next step for an initially Israel-bound shipment of sheep and cattle standing off Fremantle Port in Western Australia was still unknown today.
The MV Bahijah arrived off Fremantle yesterday afternoon after being ordered back to Australia by the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry due to tensions in the Red Sea.
Sheep Central has been told the exporter is still waiting to hear advice from DAFF after the vessel’s 9-10 day journey back to Fremantle.
The exporter has confirmed with Sheep Central that it is working with the Federal Government to ensure the best welfare outcomes for all the livestock on board.
“The livestock are fit and healthy and have been under veterinary supervision with the support of an experienced Australian stockperson during this time. They also have ample provisions of feed and water available to them,” Sheep Central was told.
“We are just continuing to work with the Australian Government around options.”
Sheep Central has been told the exporter is hoping for a decision from DAFF soon. The owners of the livestock and the ultimate importer is the Israeli-owned company Bassam Dabah.
The exporter said the health and welfare of the animals if they stayed on board is manageable, and any biosecurity concerns can also be managed.
Before DAFF ordered the vessel back to Australia due to the Red Sea tensions, the MV Bahijah had diverted to travel to Israel via South Africa.
Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton said ALEC’s stance on the situation is that DAFF is best-placed to make a decision on the shipment’s future.
The department said yesterday it has been working closely with the exporter to determine next steps for the consignment once it returned to Australian waters.
These are high quality Australian animals; however, they would be subject to strict biosecurity controls while in Australia, and protecting Australia’s strong biosecurity system and the welfare of the livestock on board remain the department’s top priorities, the DAFF statement said.
The department said it has been working with the exporter to determine the options available to them, consistent with legislative and regulatory responsibilities and taking into account the unique circumstances of the vessel.
It is not appropriate for the department to comment publicly on these assessments until they are completed, DAFF said.