Author: Dr Stephanie Hing, Animal Welfare Policy and Research Manager, RSPCA Western Australia and CAWSEL 2017 attendee
At CAWSEL 2017, we learnt about welfare concepts and assessment, ethics and livestock welfare and these are all very relevant to the current live export issues in Australia.
Live export is a live issue at the moment. Every year, millions of livestock are exported from Australia overseas including to the Middle East. Animal welfare concerns have long been held about conditions during the journeys and the treatment of animals in destination countries. The issues recently came to a head when disturbing footage taken by a whistle-blower aboard a live export vessel was aired on Australian television in April 2018. The footage showed sheep suffering unbearably and dying from heat stress on several voyages from the Australian winter to the Middle Eastern summer. On one voyage alone, over 4000 sheep died from heat stress. Australia as a nation recoiled in horror.
At the time of writing, the live export company in question has had their export licence suspended by the Australian Department of Agriculture and criminal investigations are underway at both a state and Federal level. Leaders from all political persuasions have promised action to address the unacceptable and unnecessary suffering of animals in live export.
Might we dare to hope for a future where atrocities such as those revealed in the Australian live export industry were no longer?