THE BAN on live sheep exports to the Middle East has been extended by the Department of Agriculture to 22 September.

In making the decision, the department said it had considered the “best available” science and evidence, and feedback from public consultation. The interests of the industry, animal welfare and government policy were also taken into account.

A statement from the department said evidence indicated the risk of heat stress for voyages departing Australia in the first three weeks of September are comparable, or higher than June.

“The department determined conditions in June (along with July and August) are too hot for sheep exports. The industry came to a similar conclusion,” the department said.

“Furthermore, sheep departing Australia in early to mid-September are acclimatised to cooler Australian temperatures and therefore less heat tolerant than sheep departing in Australian summer or autumn months.”

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When trade resumes, shipments to the Middle East must comply with the same conditions that applied in May when the ban started. These include verification of the ship’s pen air turnover, a heat-stress management plan, stocking sheep properly and collection of environmental data to report to the department.

Also, this week, media has reported that Emanuel Exports and two former board members have been charged with animal cruelty stemming from a voyage to the Middle East on the Awassi Express almost two years ago.

Footage of the voyage, upon which about 2400 sheep died between Fremantle and the Middle East, sparked outrage and prompted the department to impose bans on sheep exports to the region in the Northern Hemisphere summer.

The Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development said the charges followed a year-and-a-half-long investigation.

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