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Live sheep export – Timeline of events

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  • RSPCA Australia
  • Monday, 21 January 2019

Sunday 8 April 2018 – Shocking footage of sheep suffering on board a long-haul live export journey aired on 60 Minutes, after being captured by a brave whistle-blower.

Tuesday 17 April 2018– While the Department of Agriculture failed to respond to the footage of cruelty from on board the Awassi Express, another vessel, the MV Al Messilah arrived in Fremantle to commence its next journey. This is following the MV Maysora setting sail the week prior.

At the same time, more horrific footage of animal cruelty is released from an Australian Government approved abattoir in Qatar.

Sunday 22 April 2018 – Conditions on board the MV Maysora are reported by WA government officials who boarded the ship with a warrant after being refused access by the live export company. They find sheep in overcrowded conditions without clear access to food and water, contaminated water troughs and dead sheep already visible – all prior to the ship actually departing.

 Monday 7 May 2018 A scientific review by the Australian Veterinary Association into live sheep exports is released, and concludes that voyages from May to October, during the hottest time of the year in the Middle East, should not continue given the high risk of suffering and death for animals.

Thursday 3 May 2018 – RSPCA Australia pledges $500,000 to ending the suffering of Australia sheep on long-haul live export voyages, alongside Animal Australia who also pledge $500,000.

Thursday 3 May 2018 – The Australian Labor Party pledges to end live sheep export if they are to win the 2019 federal election.

Thursday 10 May 2018 – Senators Lee Rhiannon and Derryn Hinch jointly introduce a Bill in the Senate to phase out live sheep exports over the next five years.

Monday 14 May 2018 - As another live export vessel, the Al Shuwaikh, loads 80,000 sheep in Fremantle, the RSPCA escalates calls for independent observers to be placed on board live export vessels.

Thursday 17 May 2018 - The Australian Government’s review into live sheep exports, the McCarthy Review, is released recommending changes to the industry’s Heat Stress Risk Assessment that will lead to massive reductions in stocking densities over the May to October Middle Eastern summer period.

Thursday 14 June 2018 – Animals Australia takes legal action  challenging the legality of the Department of Agriculture’s decision to continue issuing export permits despite the incontrovertible evidence of animal suffering.

Friday 22 June 2018 – Emanuel Exports, the company responsible for the Awassi Express shipment, has its export licence suspended by the Department of Agriculture.

Wednesday 27 June 2018 – A motion is passed in the Senate calling for the Government to legislate for an orderly phase-out of the live sheep export trade.

Tuesday 10 July 2018 – EMS Rural Exports, a company closely affiliated with the disgraced exporter Emanuel Exports, applies to export 60,000 sheep.

Thursday 12 July 2018 - EMS Rural Exports has its licence suspended by the Department of Agriculture.

Wednesday 22 August 2018 – Following its suspension, Emanuel Exports has its export licence cancelled by the Department of Agriculture.

Tuesday 18 September 2018The MV Maysora is allowed to set sail with 30,000 sheep, despite the prior concerns about conditions on the ship, and the continued risk of heat stress in the Middle Eastern summer.

Friday 12 October 2018The Department of Agriculture releases a notice to relax stocking density restrictions put in place in July– once again, ignoring the science and capitulating to industry demands.

Thursday 18 October 2018 – Yet another live export company, closely associated to Emanuel Exports, is granted an export licence, despite its parent company’s horrific track record on animal welfare.

Wednesday 31 October 2018 – The Government’s review into the culture and capability of the Department of Agriculture is released. The Moss Review identifies conflicting responsibilities, systemic neglect of animal welfare, and recommends the establishment of an independent Inspector-General of Live Animal Exports.

Thursday 29 November 2018The first ‘Independent’ observer report from on board a live export ship is released, and states that heat stress on board was ‘unavoidable’, despite the ship complying with the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL).

Tuesday 4 December 2018The Australian Live Exporters Council (ALEC) announce the industry will be self-imposing a moratorium on live sheep exports to the Middle East from June to August 2019, in a desperate attempt to salvage the industry’s shattered social license and pre-empt the recommendations of the Government’s Heat Stress Risk Assessment Review.

Thursday 13 December 2018 - The long-awaited draft report from the Heat Stress Risk Assessment Review is released, making preliminary recommendations that will lead to the likely end of the Middle Eastern summer trade. A public consultation is open until January 31 2019

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