ANIMAL rights activists are concerned about the welfare of 22,000 Australian sheep on board a ship that has been sitting in the Persian Gulf for a fortnight after the cargo was rejected by Bahrain on quarantine grounds.
It raises memories of the Cormo Express, the 2003 case that raised a political storm and changed standards for live animal exports. The Ocean Drover, a ship owned by the livestock export firm Wellard, is understood to have been anchored off a Bahraini port for about two weeks.
The sheep were reportedly rejected by Bahraini quarantine officials on the grounds that they were infected with the contagious viral disease scabby mouth. Some sheep have died but the number is understood to be less than the 2 per cent specified limit.
After the Cormo Express case, in which more than 1000 sheep died, Australia signed memoranda of understanding with destination countries that oblige them to accept live exports into feedlots within 36 hours, including into quarantine, if needed.
Advertisement It is understood that Wellard has not yet exercised its rights under the MOU. In a separate incident, a ship carrying Australian sheep faced a lengthy delay off Kuwait. The consignment of sheep has been unloaded.
A campaign director for Animals Australia, Lyn White, said the incidents showed the MOUs with destination countries were useless.
Wellard confirmed the delay but said it was working through the issues with the importer, the Bahraini Livestock Company, as well as the Bahraini government and the Australian government.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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