Australia Halts Livestock Ship’s Voyage Around Africa to Israel

On the reported day, the Australian government made a decisive decision by denying a request from a livestock exporter seeking approval to transport a significant number of animals – around 14,000 sheep and 1,500 cattle – on an extensive month-long voyage around the African continent to Israel. The livestock, confined to the vessel for a month, has sparked widespread concern and condemnation from animal rights advocates who vehemently argue that the animals’ conditions are tantamount to torture.

The journey of the MV Bahijah, which initially embarked from Australia to Israel on January 5, took an unexpected turn when the planned passage through the Red Sea was abruptly abandoned. The reason cited was the perceived threat of an attack by Yemen’s Houthi militia. Consequently, in response to this security concern, the Australian government issued a directive for the vessel to return home.

This situation has raised ethical and logistical questions concerning the treatment of animals in long-haul transport, as well as the broader implications of international trade routes involving live cargo. The decision to refuse the exporter’s request reflects a prioritization of animal welfare and security concerns by the Australian government, prompting further discussions on the ethical considerations surrounding the global livestock trade.

The vessel in question has been anchored off the coast of Western Australia, patiently awaiting the government’s verdict on whether it can resume its maritime journey. During the past week, a partial resolution has been reached, with several hundred cattle being offloaded. However, in adherence to Australia’s stringent biosecurity regulations, any animals disembarked are obligated to undergo a period of quarantine. This precautionary measure underscores the country’s commitment to safeguarding its livestock and preventing the potential introduction of diseases. The ongoing situation highlights the intricate intersection of maritime logistics, biosecurity protocols, and animal welfare considerations in the realm of international trade and transportation.

Australian Ministry Expresses Dissatisfaction with Assurances on Animal Welfare

The agriculture ministry has declared its dissatisfaction with the exporter’s application, citing concerns that it fails to meet both Australian and Israeli regulatory standards for the transportation of animals, raising doubts about the well-being of the livestock. Although the ministry did not provide specific details regarding the decision, it assured that the animals currently on board remain in good health.

In a statement, the ministry mentioned that the next course of action for the livestock lies in the hands of the exporter, emphasizing that these are commercial decisions to be made. The department affirmed its readiness to evaluate any future applications submitted by the exporter.

Australia holds a prominent position as a major live animal exporter, having shipped over half a million sheep and cattle in the past year. However, there are plans by the government to phase out live sheep exports in the coming years. Notably, another livestock vessel, carrying approximately 60,000 animals, departed Australia recently for the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba.

Efforts to reach Bassem Dabbah, the exporter responsible for the animals on the Bahijah, were unsuccessful, and requests for comments from the ship’s manager, Korkyra Shipping, remained unanswered.

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