RSPCA again urges an end to live exports

Regulations for live sheep exports that take place during the northern hemisphere summer are currently under review by the federal government, with a final report expected during the first quarter of 2022.

Regulations were introduced after scenes from the Awassi Express were shown on television in 2018, but RSPCA CEO Richard Mussell warned if they are reduced tens of thousands more Australian sheep could be exported in extreme heat to, and through, several Middle East destinations. This would present an ‘unacceptable risk’ to animals known to be vulnerable to heat stress. Currently the northern summer prohibition spans from June 1 to September 14.

“Live export should be phased out altogether, but at the very least the prohibition needs to be extended from May 1 to October 31 to cover the hottest parts of the year. Sheep suffer on board live export vessels, but we know they especially suffer during voyages to, and through, the Middle East during the hot northern summer due to the substantial risk of heat stress,” he said.

Mussell fears the government is proposing to further reduce the prohibition period, and to step back from its prior commitment to improve animal welfare in the sector despite the science, a lack of robust data, and evidence that shows the climate is widely predicted to become hotter, more intense, and more variable.

“Australians were outraged at the horror shown on their TV screens, and it’s because of the significant public pressure on the federal government that we saw a northern summer prohibition finally put in place. The RSPCA calls on the government to not reduce this prohibition, and instead extend the period and work towards an end to live sheep export altogether,” he said.

Details of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s draft report are available at together with details on how to make a submission.

Anne Layton-Bennett

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