An investigation has been launched by the Australian agriculture minister, David Littleproud, after footage emerged of 2,400 sheep dying onan Emanuel Exports ship from Fremantle to the Middle East in August 2017.
Source: David Lade
The footage was filmed by a whistleblower and then given to Animals Australia, who showed it to Littleproud last Wednesday. According to The Guardian, he said:
I saw footage provided to me by Animals Australia, which is very disturbing. I am shocked and gutted. This is the livelihood of Australian farmers that are on that ship ... This is their pride and joy and this is total bullsh*t that what I saw has taken place.
The ship, which left Fremantle on August 1, was carrying 63,804 sheep bound for Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.All live export shipments with mortality rates of more than 2% are subject to review and since 3.76% of the sheep died from heat stress, an investigation by the federal environment department is underway.
Screenshot of the footage. Source: 60 Minutes
In a statement on Thursday, Littleproud said he had an urgent meeting with the department since viewing the footage and thanked Animals Australia – an organisation that has previously been in conflict with federal agriculture ministers – for sharing the footage. He said:
We need to create an environment where groups, whistleblowers and individuals are comfortable and confident coming forward so we can nail those who do the wrong thing.
Sadly, this isn't the first time Emanuel has come under fire for a mass mortality event due to heat stress.While the shipment detailed in this incident was on route last year, the Perth-based exporters werewarned of possible prosecutionover a shipment in July 2016 on which 3,027 of the 69,322 sheep onboard died, leaving a mortality rate of 4.36%.It was even reported that due to the sheer number of dead sheep on board, it was difficult to manage the bodies. According to investigation reports, temperatures reached 36C (97F), with 95% humidity overnight.Although Emanuel rostered an extra crew to "undertake additional housekeeping" to keep water troughs full, these actions were clearly "insufficient to prevent the reportable mortality incident".
Screenshot of the footage showing a dead lamb. Source: 60 Minutes
Emanuel was required to follow a heat stress management plan for their next shipment which took place in September. The mortality rate decreased to 0.52%.The department said in 2017 that it would review its heat stress policies in time for the 2018 Middle Eastern summer.Littleproud said he "will not be afraid to call out and take strong action against those who have not fulfilled their responsibilities". He then said that he "supports the farmers who rely on live exportand the exporters who do the right thing" and that the farmers who care for their animals will be "angry and hurt" upon seeing the footage.Animals Australia said they had contacted Littleproud on behalf of the whistleblower, who had provided the footage to 60 Minutes.“This announcement by the minister speaks to the seriousness of this situation and the strength of the evidence provided to the Government,” a spokeswoman for Animals Australia said.