A Federal Government-ordered review into live sheep exports has recommended a major reduction in animals on ships bound for the Middle East during the dangerous hot months in the middle of the year.
- Major recommendation from review is to increase space for sheep and reduce number of animals on ships during hot months
- Independent regulator will also investigate ships with mortality rate of 1 per cent of sheep or more
- Government also toughening penalties for companies that breach these rules
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud initiated the review after footage emerged showing almost 2,500 sheep dying from heat stress during a trip to the Middle East last year.
Amid other reviews into live sheep exports, Mr Littleproud asked livestock veterinarian Michael McCarthy to review the standards for the sheep trade during the Middle Eastern summer.
Mr Littleproud said one of Dr McCarthy’s major recommendations, which will be adopted for this year’s summer trade, would be the “stocking density model”, which would increase space for sheep by up to 39 per cent.
“This model could have the potential merit of giving exporters incentive to improve ventilation and airflow to increase their carrying capacity,” Mr Littleproud said.
The new formula means sheep numbers will have to drop by almost 30 per cent in the hottest months.
The stocking density will vary depending on the month, meaning that as the heat increases, sheep numbers must decrease.
Under another key recommendation, the number of sheep deaths that would trigger a review from the independent regulator would also change, from the current 2 per cent threshold to 1 per cent.
Mr Littleproud said the Government would introduce legislation to punish exporters who break export rules including those around stocking densities.
“Under this offence a company would face a fine of $4.2 million, three times the benefit gained by the company or 10 per cent of the company’s annual turnover,” Mr Littleproud said.
“A director of a guilty company could face 10 years’ prison or a fine of $2.1 million.”
The report also recommended automated watering systems and that all ships planning to go to Kuwait should stop there first.
By the 2019 Middle Eastern summer, ships must have automated environment monitoring equipment fitted in the pens.