A vet who spent more than a decade working on live export ships has submitted a shocking report to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s review of the trade, listing multiple examples of sheep and cattle being smothered and injured in overstocked and dirty pens on long-haul voyages from Australia.
The submission by Dr Lynn Simpson, who was an official onboard veterinarian for 57 live export voyages includes disturbing onboard pictures of injuries, overcrowding and cattle heavily coated in faecal matter and she describes in graphic detail the suffering of animals resulting from exporters seemingly ignoring the law.
Some of the most striking photographs taken by Dr Simpson on her voyages show animals heavily coated in faeces, animals lying in slurry and ‘waterfalls’ of faeces coming from upper decks onto lower decks where animals are housed. Dr Simpson’s report indicates that these occurrences are quite routine and notes in her report “these voyages are not all short and clean as depicted by industry and their public relations machine”.
The report has been welcomed by the lobby group Vets Against Live Export (VALE) who said that recent focus on the cruel treatment of the cattle overseas has deflected attention away from conditions aboard live export ships.
VALE’s Dr Sue Foster said that the report highlighted the need for independent veterinarians on live export ships.
“The current practice of exporters employing veterinarians ensures that this poor animal welfare has been and will continue to be unreported,” said Dr Foster.
The beef lobby has been quick to dismiss the report, with pro-live export vet Dr Mike Back reportedly saying he had never seen conditions like those in Dr Simpson’s report and that he has written a letter of complaint to DAFF. Dr Back is the brother of WA Liberal senator Chris Back who advocates for the live animal export trade in the WA Parliament.
The issue is expected to get more coverage next week when the Stop Live Export group holds a protest at the Prime Minister’s community cabinet in Fremantle, WA.
In a rather bizarre move, Stop Live Exports sent an email to all supporters advising them of the protest, but asking them to keep quiet about it until 21 March to avoid giving the pro-export lobby time to organise a counter protest as they did in November. Mass emails are never private. Needless to say the email was reported in a number of agricultural publications and supporters of the live trade will apparently be out in force.
For more information about the movement to stop the live export trade, visit Ban Live Export, the site partnered by Animals Australia and the RSPCA or Stop Live Export, the website of the WA based group.