The RSPCA is calling on the new Government to commit to strengthening the live export regulatory system and expand meat export markets after more than five thousand Australian cattle on board the Israel-bound Pearl of Para were turned around at sea because of mechanical difficulties.

A mechanical failure on this ship last year led to the death of 400 pregnant cows en route from the USA to Russia.  Those animals reportedly suffered a horrific death, suffocating on ammonia fumes after the ventilation system failed.

“The live export trade is a very risky business and when it goes wrong it is usually animals that pay the price. The only way to manage the risks is by strong government regulation and developing alternatives,” said Ms Heather Neil, RSPCA Australia CEO.

“Sadly these animals are now facing a much longer voyage than expected, and may well also be subjected to the stress and risk of injury of being off loaded and reloaded onto another ship.

“Once in Israel these cattle will be slaughtered at an abattoir where they will be turned upside down and then have their throat cut while fully conscious. The RSPCA has previously called on the government to exclude this type of slaughter box from its approved supply chains.

“Today’s event yet again highlights the risks involved with live exports, risks that would be avoided if these animals had been processed in Australia and the meat exported. Until that occurs, it is vital that the current regulations are strengthened. Any dilution of the regulatory system will be a retrograde step that would see both animals and Australian farmers suffer,” said Ms Neil.

Media contact: Elise Meakin, 0419 748 907, emeakin@rspca.org.au