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THE first summary report from a live-export “independent observer” has been released, documenting a voyage the Bahijah undertook carrying sheep and cattle to Israel in 2018.

A statement about the report from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources said the observer had determined that vessel’s crew were diligent in performing their duties to ensure the well-being of the animals on board, meeting all conditions of Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) and the export licence.

Independent observers provide an additional layer of assurance that Australia’s standards for live exports are being met. Agriculture minister David Littleproud called for independent observers on live-export ships after television program 60 Minutes broadcast confronting footage of Australian sheep kept in cruel conditions on board a vessel bound for the Middle East.

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The full report of each independent observer is now an important element of the department’s regulatory oversight. All footage, images and observations are reviewed by the department in the assessment of each voyage.

Independent observers also give the live export regulator daily reports of the condition of livestock, along with photographic evidence, allowing welfare issues to be identified and addressed by the exporter in real time.

While the full content of the reports will only be used for regulatory purposes, a summary of the full report will also be published on the department’s website to ensure transparency for the community.

Each summary is signed off by the independent observer and provides an accurate account of the voyage from loading to discharge, including representative photos.

The introduction of independent observers on live export voyages in April was part of significant changes to the regulation of live animal exports introduced over the course of the year.

The department is also setting up regular engagement with exporters, livestock producers, animal welfare organisations and the wider community as part of current regulatory reform.

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