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Awassi Express

Al Messilah Berham

First published April 10

In the wake of the hideous cruelty we saw on 60 Minutes last night (Sunday), Stop Tasmanian Animal Cruelty is holding a Flash Rally this Saturday, April 14 at 10am. at Parliament Lawns.

Spokesperson Suzanne Cass said: ‘The horribly disressing vision we saw was filmed by a courageous young Pakistani trainee ship’s officer, Faisal Ullah, who simply could not bear the horrific suffering any longer. In exposing what he has for us, he has put his career, and even his safety, on the line’.

This footage from August 2017 showed thousands of dead and dying sheep on the Emanuel Export ship Awassi Express, a converted container ship that is almost 30 years old, and this voyage, on which more than 2400 sheep died, is not its first horror voyage. Nor is it anywhere near Emanuel Exports’ only experience of hotter voyages. In July 2016, another old Emanuel ship the Al Messilah, a 40 year-old converted car carrier, lost 3026 sheep to heat exhaustion in similar circumstances. Over the past 30 years, millions of animals have died on these ships, with a majority of those on Emanuel ships.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) did its usual investigation at the time of these voyages and concluded that no regulatons were breached, and now, it appears that it is having second thoughts.

‘Emanuels uses pretty much the oldest, and most decrepit ships of them all, and these two ships are fully enclosed. Stocking density is one third of a square metre for a 47kg sheep, so as we saw last night, the sheep have no possible way to lie down, and have to fight to get near feed and water. Those space regulations have not changed since 1983.

‘We also saw in that vision newborn lambs, and it is a breach of the regulations to load pregnant animals, and we saw sheep - clearly still living sheep - being tossed over the side. The throats of the lambs were cut, and they went over the side too.

‘A few years ago, decreasing sticking densitities was mooted, but the opposition from the exporters was so fierce that nothing changed, and this is just one example of how absolutely wrong that was’.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has decided to bring on a whistleblowers’ hotline, and has placed tough conditions on the Awassi Express, which is currently in Fremantle seeking to load 65,000 sheep. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority also has refused to issue the ship with an Australian Certificate for the Export of Livestock until other structural matters are rectified.

‘We have seen this posturing from governments of both sides over the years so many times and nothing ever changes’, said Ms Cass.

‘The government and the exporters both know that the main trigger for these catastrophic death voyages is loading animals in our winter and sending them to Middle East temperatures of up to 47 degrees, yet still they do it. All that means is that the phones of every crew member will be confiscated before the ships leave Australia. So once again, nothing will change, unless there is enough PUBLIC PRESSURE on both the government AND the Opposition demanding nothing less than a ban’.