Shipping company already lost live export license
PERTH, Australia––Cruelty charges were on July 31, 2019 filed against two former directors of the live animal shipping company Emanuel Exports over the August 2017 deaths of more than 2,400 sheep from heat stress aboard the Awassi Express.
The sheep were in transit to slaughter in Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates.
The deadly debacle already cost Emanuel Exports and a related firm, EMS Rural Exports Pty Ltd., their live export licenses, and in 2018 caused the Australian government to impose a moratorium on all livestock transports to the Middle East during the hot summer months.
The moratorium this year is to extend through September 22, 2019.
Maximum $50,000 fine or five years in prison
The Western Australian Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development announced the cruelty charges against former Emanuel Exports managing director Graham Daws and former board of directors member Mike Stanton.
Both were reportedly summoned to appear in court at a later unspecified date.
Stanton and Daws resigned from the Emanuel Exports board in May and June 2018, respectively, leaving the company with only one remaining director, Graham Daws’ son Nicholas Daws.
Nicholas Daws pledged to “vigorously defend the matter in court.”
“The specific offense relates to transporting an animal ‘in a way that causes, or is likely to cause, unnecessary harm,’ and carries a maximum penalty of a $50,000 fine or five years imprisonment,” reported Calla Wahlquist of The Guardian.
Lower stocking densities
“Once trade resumes,” Wahlquist wrote, “shipments to the Middle East will be required to submit a heat stress management plan, adhere to new lower stocking densities, and automatically collect on-deck temperatures,” to be reported to the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development.
The Australian federal government has already required, since 2018, that an independent observer be aboard all live animal export ships sailing to the Middle East.
“Western Australia agriculture minister Alannah MacTiernan, warned exporters in 2017, following the death of more than 3,000 sheep on the Emanuel Exports ship Al Messilah,” Wahlquist recalled, “that the state government could prosecute live exporters under its own animal welfare laws and would do so if another mass-mortality event occurred.”
Forced to make repairs
After Animals Australia in early 2018 obtained and released video of the August 2017 sheep deaths, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority intercepted the 30-year-old Awassi Express in the port of Fremantle and kept it there for two weeks while repairs were made “to improve poor ventilation on its closed livestock decks,” reported Victoria Laurie of The Australian, from Perth.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority also required Emanuel Exports to install “an automatic watering system to ensure water was provided to all pens without manual labor,” added Natalie Kotsios of The Weekly Times.
Switched to hauling cattle
The Awassi Express was then switched from hauling sheep to hauling cattle after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority ordered that it carry 17.5% fewer sheep per voyage, Kotsios wrote.
Before Animals Australia released the video, apparently taken by an appalled crew member as sick sheep struggled to keep their heads above deep manure, the mass deaths had gone unreported for seven months.
Excerpts from the video were aired by the Australian edition of the investigative news television program 60 Minutes.
200 million shipped, 2.5 million dead en route
According to the Animals Australia Live Export Fact Sheet, “Over the past 30 years Australia’s live export industry has exported over 200 million animals to the Middle East.
“During that time over 2.5 million animals have died en route and many more have suffered injury, illness and distress directly caused by transportation by sea.
“The history of the live export trade is littered with disasters caused by storms, heat episodes, mechanical failures, fires on board and trade disputes.”
Animals Australia since 2003 has conducted seven undercover investigations of live sheep and cattle exports.