Live Export

Sheep unloaded from MV Ocean Outback in Fremantle

Sheep Central, January 11, 2016
Sheep on the MV Ocean Outback.

Sheep on the MV Ocean Outback.

SHEEP taken off the troubled live export vessel MV Ocean Outback in Western Australia will either be slaughtered locally or exported at a later date.

The vessel was loaded with 7426 feeder sheep and 5614 feeder cattle destined for Israel late last month, but it experienced mechanical issues in the port of Fremantle on December 29 prior to departure.

Following inspections by WA, federal and RSPCA veterinarians late last week, the sheep on board were discharged and transported to a pre-export quarantine feedlot. No concerns for the welfare of the animals were identified and they were found to be in excellent condition, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources said.

The department conducted a Biosecurity Risk Assessment and issued an import permit for sheep on board the vessel, which required that the sheep be moved to a registered premises and kept isolated from the national livestock herd.

There were no injuries or mortalities during unloading and transport of the sheep to registered premises. However, over the past 10 days three cattle and 30 sheep died on the vessel.

The MV Ocean Outback departed Fremantle at 5.20 am on January 10, operating on one engine, and the department said it would continue to monitor the situation in line with its regulatory responsibilities for the export of livestock.

The cattle will be supplied to a regular buyer of Australian cattle who is accredited with the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS).

Wellard chief executive officer Mauro Balzarini said the WA and Federal Governments and agriculture departments have been very responsive and supportive to expedite a solution.

Wellard said the M/V Ocean Outback was constructed with a dual independent propulsion system, so can safely operate on one of its two engines. It has previously completed a number of successful short voyages using a single engine, without impacting on voyage success rates.

RSPCA welcomes possibility of domestic sheep slaughter

RSPCA Australia issued a statement last Friday stating its “serious concerns” about the ongoing welfare of the sheep and cattle on board the MV Ocean Outback.

“We are aware that current contingency plans for the livestock include unloading the sheep at the port of Fremantle to be either sold to a domestic processor or re-exported at a later stage, and for the cattle to be shipped to a market in South East Asia on the same malfunctioning vessel early next week.

“We welcome the possibility for the sheep to be slaughtered here in Australia to Australian standards,” the RSPCA statement said.

“We would be extremely concerned if the sheep were to be re-exported at a later stage.

“They have endured enough already and should not be subjected to stress of another sea voyage and the trauma of undergoing unstunned slaughter in the Middle East.”

The cattle would have been onboard the Ocean Outback for two weeks by the time they finally depart for South East Asia, and under the power of a single engine, it is likely to be a long journey, the RSPCA said.

“This is a wholly unacceptable situation and again demonstrates the inherent and unavoidable risks of the live animal trade.

“We strongly encourage the exporter to put the animals’ welfare first in making further decisions about the future of the 13,000 animals involved.”

The RSPCA also called upon the Australian Government to “seriously consider the merits of transitioning to a more stable, sustainable, and ethical trade in chilled and frozen meat processed here in Australia to Australian standards.”

Sources: Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Wellard Rural Exports, RSPCA.


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  1. Katrina Love, January 11, 2016

    The latest news is that they will be slaughtered locally, which is probably the only good decision Wellard has made during this entire debacle.

    Where was the contingency plan? Why were the animals not removed from the ship as soon as it was realised repairs could not be undertaken in Australia, given it was a relatively painless task for Wellard to buy the animals and transfer the sheep to their Baldivis feedlot? If the animals were not to be taken off the ship, why wait until day 11 after first departing Fremantle to empty and wash down?

    How is it that the whole reason industry, government and supporters of the live trade bang on about the excellence and standards of ‘livestock’ export ships that are allowed to service Australia? Hasn’t Wellard’s Ocean Outback just left Australia with 5500 cattle on board with one engine? Where is the fail-safe in that?

  2. Trish Brown, January 11, 2016

    Who ever wrote this article needs to have a lesson in math and get this story straight, ie. loaded 7426 sheep and 5614 cattle on December 29. Fact – you can’t load that many animals in one day.

    Discharged 7500 sheep and had them quarantined at an export premise outside of Fremantle. This makes a difference of 74 more sheep discharged than the initial load of 7426, also 30 sheep died on the vessel. When? Was it in the port or after they were unloaded and sent to the quarantine premises/feedlot or did it happen during unloading?

    This article also says that 5614 cattle were also loaded on the ship on December 29 and that three cattle died. When? Was it between the time of the load and the 10th of January 2016, which was yesterday?
    The fact that three cattle have perished on this ship while in Fremantle Port shows that this disgusting trade should be phased out because the exporters can’t even get the numbers right when they get these permits to export livestock for overseas slaughter. I for one never believe the mortality figures that the masters of these export vessel conjure up when the livestock are discharged in foreign ports.
    The vets and stock men who are supposed to be on board during long and short haul voyages are employed by the exporters. The ships are leased or owned by the exporters. The exporters also remunerate the ships’ masters and crew on every voyage that ends with these poor beasts being slaughtered brutally in foreign countries that have no animal welfare concerns or policies. The Australian Federal Government has allowed this industry to be self-governing and DAFF just turns a blind eye when disaster after disaster occurs in the cruel and rotten trade. Editors’ note: The exporter said the discrepancy in numbers was due to a rounding of figures in a press release.

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