Australia stops ship carrying livestock from sailing around Africa to Israel

The animals have been on board the ship for a month
calendar icon 6 February 2024
clock icon 2 minute read

The Australian government said on Monday it had refused a request by a livestock exporter to send a ship carrying around 14,000 sheep and 1,500 cattle on a month-long voyage around Africa to Israel, reported Reuters.

The animals have been on board the vessel for a month, prompting outcry from animal rights advocates who have likened their treatment to torture.

The MV Bahijah sailed from Australia for Israel on Jan. 5 but abandoned a passage through the Red Sea due to threat of attack by Yemen's Houthi militia and was ordered home by the Australian government.

The ship has been waiting off Western Australia for a week for the government to decide if it can head back to sea.

Several hundred cattle were offloaded in recent days but Australia's biosecurity rules mean any animals that disembark must be quarantined.

The agriculture ministry said it was not satisfied that the exporter's application met Australian or Israeli regulatory requirements or that the animals' transportation would ensure their health and welfare.

It did not give further details on the decision but said the animals were still in good health.

"The next steps for the livestock onboard the vessel are commercial decisions for the exporter to make," it said. "The department (ministry) stands ready to assess any future application."

Australia is a major exporter of live animals, shipping more than half a million sheep and half a million cattle last year. The government plans to ban live sheep exports in the coming years.

Another livestock vessel carrying around 60,000 animals left Australia last week for the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba.

Reuters was unable to contact Bassem Dabbah, the exporter of the animals on the Bahijah. The ship's manager, Korkyra Shipping, did not respond to requests for comment.

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