THE AUSTRALIAN Maritime Safety Authority is shining a spotlight on live-export ships exporting animals from Australia over the next six months.

AMSA is launching a focused inspection campaign (FIC) to look closely at the maintenance and operation of livestock ships over the period.

Every vessel that carries livestock from Australia will be subject to a one FIC inspection during the campaign. The authority said the results of the FIC will be analysed and published on its website.

AMSA said the arrival of the Marshall Islands-flagged Barkly Pearl in Western Australia with a hole in its side raised serious concerns – particularly after the Gulf Livestock 1 was lost off the Japanese coast in September.

Barkly Pearl was removed from Australian waters in January on a heavy-lift ship and AMSA slapped the livestock carrier with a two-year ban.

AMSA general manager operations Allan Schwartz said the Barkly Pearl incident was deeply concerning for AMSA.

“As a result, we decided to increase the intensity of our focus on ensuring that livestock ships are compliant with international conventions and the requirements of Australian law when they carry livestock from Australia,” Mr Schwartz said.

AMSA’s focused inspection campaign will target these issues from 1 March to 31 August this year.

“We need to know if these were isolated incidents or indicative of more systemic issues with ship maintenance and stability,” Mr Schwartz said.

“This focused inspection campaign is on top of AMSA’s normal inspection and certification regime for foreign-flagged livestock ships. Under Australian law, we already require livestock ships operating from Australian ports to undergo pre-loading inspections and be certified for carrying livestock.

Mr Schwartz said livestock ships that export animals from Australia must comply with additional safety standards that were developed specifically by AMSA for these types of ships.

“Those standards are outlined under Marine Order 43 – Cargo and Cargo Handling (Livestock) and will also be a focus of this inspection campaign, in addition to maintenance and stability,” he said.

Mr Schwartz said every livestock ship arriving in Australia during the six-month campaign would be targeted for inspection and the outcome of the campaign published in a report on AMSA’s website towards the end of the year.

AMSA said its focused campaign will specifically look at

  • the maintenance and repair requirements of livestock ships in relation to international conventions,
  • the ships crews’ familiarity with determining the ship’s stability, and
  • the use of accurate information for the livestock cargo carried when calculating stability,

AMSA will also check that livestock ships operating from Australia continue to comply with the specific requirements of Marine Order 43—Cargo and cargo handling—livestock.