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The RSPCA is both pleased and relieved that the live export regulator (the Department of Agriculture) has seen fit to deny the ill-conceived application to re-export the thousands of sheep and cattle currently on the stricken MV Bahijah.

This desperate plan would have subjected the animals to a gruelling and extended journey of more than 65 days – that is, 33+ more days on top of the 32 they’ve already been confined to the vessel. This would have made it one of the longest live export journeys in living memory.

The journey via the Cape of Good Hope, as requested in the now-denied application, would have been fraught with all the usual stressors of a live export journey, with the added fatigue the animals have already experienced after 32 days at sea, and the treacherous conditions often experienced by vessels navigating that route.

Protecting these animals from the consequences of further export was the right thing to do.

The only right decision now is to have these animals humanely processed in Australia. We would be extremely alarmed if there was any proposal to re-export them at a future time. They’ve suffered enough.

We await further advice from the department on the reasons for their decision. We now urge the exporter, Bassem Dabbah, to avoid further unnecessary delay, and safely offload the animals as soon as possible and make immediate arrangements with local stakeholders and the Department.

We need to remember that these animals are not yet safe from danger; they are stressed, fatigued and continue to be at risk of illness, disease and death. As a result of the delays so far, further fatalities are almost inevitable.

We expect that any handling will be done in a low stress manner and with the welfare of the animals as a priority.

Once again, this situation highlights that it is impossible to regulate this inherently risky industry. Live animal export cannot be fixed, and it can never be effectively regulated.

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