From Dr Simpson’s submission – overstocked cattle covered in excrement
FOR THE FIRST TIME, THE REAL CONDITIONS ON LIVE EXPORT SHIPS HAS BEEN MADE PUBLIC …
Last August, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) called for submissions into the operation of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock. 23 submissions have been published on the DAFF website (here):
One submission in particular has become especially public and has ‘gone viral’ within the animal advocacy community. The document was submitted by Dr Lynn Simpson, a shipboard veterinarian of 13 years experience, who had sailed on 57 ‘long and extra long haul’ voyages. It is anyone’s guess why it has taken Dr Simpson such a long time to come forward about the truly atrocious conditions faced by animals on live export ships on voyages that can be as long as 41 days, or almost 6 weeks, but her submission documents, and photographs, the desperate living conditions and misery the animals must endure for many weeks on these old Third World ships.
Dr Simpson’s submission can be found here:
The key issues identified in the submission include:
• Hard deck, ‘cleated’ and bitumised flooring, totally unsuitable for animals who cannot or will not lie down on these surfaces, particularly when they are covered in excrement, compounded by insufficient cleaning and bedding, especially appalling on voyages of up to 6 weeks
• Overstocking in pens, meaning the animals cannot all lie down at once
• Animals who meet the ‘rejection criteria’ (ill and unfit animals) being loaded regardless, blind, lame, or otherwise ill or diseased
• Animals who do not meet the requirements of the importing country (for example, the voyage of the M/V Barkly Pearl from Geraldton to Mauritius on which cattle certified by an Australian veterinarian and cattle specialist as not being pregnant gave birth to calves on the ship and many more were found to be pregnant upon arrival in Mauritius, where it is unlawful to slaughter pregnant animals)
• Cattle with bleeding horn stumps being loaded
• Cattle far too heavy being loaded who then developed severe leg injuries from the shipboard conditions; other animals suffering from footrot and injuries compounded by septicaemia from being mired in urine and excrement for weeks
• Open, faulty drains pouring urine and excrement from animals on higher decks onto animals below
• Animals being unable to cool themselves because they are covered in faeces, despite the soaring temperatures in the northern hemisphere
• Inability to properly check the animals’ health and welfare because of overstocking, which also led to smothering of some animals
• Insufficient veterinary supplies to treat animals, including humane killing devices
• Unshorn sheep, whose condition could not be checked because of the thickness of their fleeces and the stocking densities
• High ammonia levels and suboptimal ventilation, causing not only a hazard to ship personnel, but especially to the animals, who live in this environment for long weeks on end, 24/7. This can cause severe eye irritation and pneumonia
• And possibly worst of all, depriving the animals of feed and water for 48 hours of more in the heat of the Middle East to meet trade (weight restrictions) requirements, and in circumstances where they could be further delayed by transports in the destination country.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that Dr Simpson is now employed by DAFF, in its ‘Animal Welfare’ branch. If her submission highlights anything, it is what animal advocates have always known – the conditions on these ships are simply horrendous, and there is no upper limit on how long these voyages can take. It is also understood that DAFF will now have an even more significant conflict of interest even if it were to bother to investigate the issues raised by Dr Simpson, notwithstanding the fact that DAFF’s investigations typically take many months and there is never any meaningful outcome to any of them. The photographs in the document present a picture of thousands upon thousands of ill, injured, miserable animals, who live like this for weeks on end, only to face brutal handling and slaughter in destination countries.
The submission did highlight, however, matters that fall under the remit of Marine Orders Pt. 43 in respect of some of the conditions under which these ships operate in and out of Australia. MO43 is administered by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, an agency far less compromised than DAFF, and Stop Tasmanian Animal Cruelty has cross-referenced MO43 with the issues raised by Dr Simpson and filed a complaint with AMSA which is now being investigated.
DAFF is ‘investigating’ a number of complaints going back to August 2012 and even further. How can we forget the horrors the Australian sheep, rejected by Bahrain, and transported to Pakistan endured, shown in the ‘Four Corners program ‘Another Bloody Business’ last November?
Lyn White’s article in The Punch’ here:
DAFF has yet to conclude its investigation into this carnage, which involved the mass butchery, stabbing to death and burying alive of 22,000 Australian sheep, who were the hapless tragedies of an exporter (Wellards).
Likewise, Animals Australia filed a complaint with DAFF last August about hundreds of Australian sheep found in a notoriously cruel market in Kuwait, the Al Rai market, which is banned under Australia’s ESCAS all but meaningless regime, and Animals Australia filed a second complaint months later on the same violation, yet DAFF has done nothing.
The film footage from the brutal Israeli slaughterhouse last December, again exposed in Australia by the ABC was dismissed, because the animals shown were exported prior to the ESCAS regime being implemented in that country. The film showed animals being thrown and dragged, and electric shock devices used on eyes, faces, genital and anal areas of the animals, and a cow with a broken leg being dragged to slaughter with a forklift. Likewise, dairy and breeding animals dying in their hundreds in Qatar was dismissed on the basis of a lack of evidence – and the fact that ESCAS does not cover breeding and dairy animals. A further complaint about appalling slaughter conditions in Indonesia was also dismissed by DAFF.
The Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS) has been progressively implemented by the Federal government since Four Corners exposed the shockingly brutal treatment of Australian cattle in Indonesia in May 2011, and even the Deputy Secretary of DAFF freely admits that the disasters and horrendous cruelty we have seen so much of can happen at any time, in any of the markets to which Australia sends live animals. Inexplicably, both the major political parties are vocal in their support of this trade in wretched animal misery. The coalition favours the trade even more than the Gillard government, so be careful what you wish for when you cast your vote in September. Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop habitually describes the all-too-short ban on the cattle trade to Indonesia as a ‘debacle’, tacitly saying that, rather than offending the Indonesians, Australia should have just let the shocking and savage abuse continue unabated. Tony Abbott just reiterates the vastly inflated number of jobs that this trade ‘supports’, with no regard for the number of jobs it has cost in Australia, estimated to be 40,000 direct meat workers jobs, on top of the satellite industries which depended upon meat processing in the regional communities. Labor backbencher Kelvin Thomson, once a vocal critic of the trade, was silenced by a promotion within the Gillard government, showing that political self-interest trumps morality every time. In Tasmania, Dick Adams claims to be against this trade but does as little about it as he does about anything else. Julie Collins, showing that she cannot form an individual opinion about anything, supports anything her leaders tell her to. Andrew Wilkie, in stark contrast, is a powerful advocate for the animals, so Denison voters are more fortunate that the rest of us.
If the evidence we have seen from so many countries is not enough for them, as well as this evidence of the dreadful shipboard suffering has now been exposed as well, what will it take? It is time to reconsider how we vote. Independents, providing that they have not signed backroom deals with the major parties, are not compromised by party allegiances and are more likely to represent you properly in the Parliament. Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has worked very hard on this issue, one that is so close to the hearts of so many of us. Please make your vote count.
No ban, no vote … get the animals off the boats!