30 January 2024

RSPCA WA is calling for all livestock onboard the MV Bahijah to be offloaded as soon as possible and dealt with here in WA.

CEO Ben Cave said any other decision would be cruel and barbaric.

“Heatwave conditions are forecast for the rest of the week. These animals have already spent nearly a month on rolling seas in cramped conditions, standing in their own waste – there really is no other humane choice but to get them off the ship now,” he said.

“To send them back out to sea on an even longer voyage would be cruel and barbaric.”

Mr Cave also called for greater transparency regarding the welfare of the nearly 20,000 animals on board.

“At the very least, independent vets should be on board inspecting the livestock and I would hope the Federal Department of Agriculture has animal welfare inspectors ready to go aboard to check on these animals too.

“It is curious to note the invitations to media in the past to take a ‘tour’ of a live export ship (squeaky clean and yet to leave port) seem to have dried up now.

“I’m sure any journalist covering this story would jump at the chance to go on board and see the condition of the animals after so long at sea.

“If the industry wants to back its claims there are no welfare issues associated with the live export trade, surely this is the ideal opportunity.”

Mr Cave said he also takes industry’s talk of biosecurity concerns with a grain of salt.

“These Australian animals were loaded in Australia and haven’t left the ship since,” he said.

“Any animals of concern can be quarantined and dealt with appropriately.”

Mr Cave said this sorry situation shows just why the Albanese Government needs to legislate a live sheep export end date as soon as possible.

“The ship has well and truly sailed on live export with polling showing seven in ten West Australians, including those in rural and regional areas, agree.

“The welfare risks and real, inherent and can’t be fixed – they’re playing out right under our noses in our own backyard as we speak.

“As a supposedly civilised, caring society, what more proof do we need?”