MV Ocean Outback: How many will suffer on the slow boat to Vietnam

RSPCA Australia is calling on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to provide a timely report on the fate of 5,600 cattle currently en route to Vietnam.

Earlier this month, RSPCA Australia expressed serious concerns about the ongoing welfare of 7,400 sheep and 5,600 cattle on board the MV Ocean Outback, which had been docked off the port of Fremantle for over 10 days due to mechanical failure.

RSPCA Australia Chief Scientist, Dr Bidda Jones, said the sheep had been offloaded at port, with their fate unknown, but the cattle were reported to be on their way to Vietnam.

“The cattle had already been on board for two weeks before departure, and are enduring a slower than normal voyage on a ship with only one operating engine. RSPCA Australia has also expressed serious concerns about Vietnamese practices, including the use of sledgehammers in slaughterhouses outside approved supply chains,” Dr Jones said.

“Government protocols require the on-board vet to report on the general condition of the cattle. Given the extensive public concern over the extended delay in departure, we are seeking timely information from the Government about the outcome of the voyage, including the overall duration of the voyage, mortality rates and the general health and condition of the livestock upon arrival.

“RSPCA Australia is also calling on Wellard to confirm that the 7,400 sheep offloaded in Fremantle will not be re-exported.

“We would be extremely concerned if the sheep were to be re-exported at a later stage. They have endured enough already, and should not be subjected to the stress of another sea voyage and the trauma of undergoing unstunned slaughter in the Middle East.  

“Once again, we call upon the Australian Government to seriously consider the merits of transitioning to a more stable, sustainable, and ethical trade in chilled and frozen meat processed here in Australia to Australian standards,” Dr Jones said.