Fate of 13,000 animals waiting live export still uncertain

06 January 2016

The immediate fate of 7,400 sheep and 5,600 cattle still waiting on board live export ship MV Ocean Outback remains undecided.

More than a week after the engine malfunction which foundered the ship, the animals awaiting live transport to Israel are still on board and no decision has been made yet on what will happen to them.

We have submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Agriculture to release the contingency plan which is a necessary condition of licenses for live export shipments.

The length of time it has taken to enact a contingency plan for the 13,000 animals on board is more evidence of the inherent risk and cruelty of live export. The only acceptable 'contingency' to avoid animal cruelty would be not to export live animals.

Although the details remain unknown, we understand there are currently several scenarios under consideration.

  • One option involves offloading the animals and resting them before resuming the voyage.
  • Another would see the cattle kept on the faulty ship for a re-routing to South-East Asia. At this point it is unclear what would happen to the sheep if this course of action took place.
  • The animals may also be transshipped to another vessel to resume their long journey to Israel.

None of these answers to the delay are ideal for the welfare of the animals, particularly given that they have already endured an additional week in unfamiliar and distressing circumstances.

Last year an engine fault on the another ship bound for Israel-Jordan saw a higher-than-allowed onboard mortality rate for animals on the slower voyage. This information was released in a Department of Agriculture report.

Welfare of the animals is paramount in this unfortunate situation and should be put before all commercial considerations

The biggest impact of this malfunction is on the living, feeling animals. The eventual impact in health and onboard mortality of the sheep and cows will be felt not now but at the end of the journey.

The only acceptable 'contingency' to avoid animal cruelty would be not to export live animals