Long-haul live animal export is too risky and should not continue, says world-leading animal welfare expert

One of the world’s foremost animal welfare experts – recognised as such by the Australian Government – says long-haul live animal exports are too high a risk and should not be conducted.

Speaking as keynote at the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) annual conference in Perth last week, Cambridge University’s Emeritus Professor of Animal Welfare Donald Broom said his position is based on several different areas that pose significant risk in long-haul sea transport.

“First, the major risk is the high temperatures, and where high temperatures occur, there are always likely to be significant mortalities,” said Professor Broom.

“Second, there is a risk of diseases developing in animals during the transport, and we have now some evidence about how often that happens, and it does happen significantly.

“Finally, there is a proportion of animal that don’t eat for several different reasons, and animals don’t eat for a lengthy period of time may die.

“The longer the journey, the greater the risk of encountering adverse sea conditions, and there’s no doubt these can be very bad for the animals.

“Those are four different areas where there is a significant risk, and if you look at the whole risk of a long journey, it seems to me the risks are too high,” said Professor Broom.

Professor Broom - who was the world’s first Professor of Animal Welfare, has held the position at Cambridge since 1986 and served on multiple United Kingdom and Council of Europe committees - also said he believes that live animal export was damaging not only Australia’s farming reputation internationally but Australia’s reputation as a whole.

“There is a major reputational risk for Australia as a whole – not just animal products or farming,” he said.

“When the public sees there’s another disaster, and lots of animals have died, that’s a bad thing for the whole country, not just the industry.

"The risks of long distance sea transport are too great, and therefore, it shouldn’t be done,” said Professor Broom.

Professor Broom has published over 360 refereed papers and lectured in 45 countries.

In addition, he was Chair or Vice Chair of the EU Scientific Committees on Animal Welfare between 1990 and 2009, represented the EU in World Trade Organisation (WTO) challenges, prepared a Study on Animal Welfare in the EU for the European Parliament published January 2017, and chaired the World Organization for Animal Health (O.I.E.) land transport group.

Professor Broom was also previously brought to Australia by the Australian Government for its AAWS08 International Animal Welfare conference, held in Queensland in 2008.