Stranded Australian livestock set to disembark ship

The livestock have been aboard the ship for more than a month
calendar icon 7 February 2024
clock icon 2 minute read

Around 15,500 sheep and cattle aboard a ship that turned back from the Red Sea due to the risk of attack off Yemen will disembark in Australia but likely be put on another vessel in the coming weeks and exported, Reuters reported, citing a farm group.

The livestock have been on board the MV Bahijah for more than a month, prompting an outcry from animal rights advocates who say their treatment is cruel.

The vessel left Australia on Jan. 5 for Israel but was ordered home and arrived back in Australian waters late last month during an ongoing heatwave.

Passage through the Red Sea has become perilous due to attacks on shipping by Yemen's Houthi militia.

The Australian government on Monday denied a request by the exporter to offload some animals and send the rest to Israel around Africa to avoid the Red Sea, a journey of around 33 days.

The Bahijah is waiting while another livestock carrier loads at Perth's Fremantle port, and the animals are unlikely to disembark until Saturday at the earliest, said Geoff Pearson, head of livestock at farm group WAFarmers.

The animals - around 14,000 sheep and 1,500 cattle - will be transported from Perth into quarantine, as required by Australia's biosecurity laws.

"Re-export is the preferred option," Pearson said, adding that the animals were unlikely to return to port immediately.

He said the government had refused to allow the journey to Israel because animal rights groups there had begun court proceedings to block an import permit for the animals.

The agriculture ministry did not comment.

Reuters was unable to contact Bassem Dabbah, the exporter of the livestock. The ship's manager, Korkyra Shipping, has not responded to requests for comment.

Another livestock vessel left Australia last week for the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba but could divert to a port in the Gulf if the threat of attack from Yemen is too great.

Australia is a major exporter of live animals.

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