“Industry must lead the way in improved animal welfare outcomes and in building a culture and vision that supports this, in alignment with community expectations,” ALEC Chairman Simon Crean said.
At a meeting in Brisbane today, exporters voted in support of a number of measures to deliver immediate industry changes, as well as longer-term reforms. The measures will be presented as part of the industry’s response to the McCarthy Review, which was announced by the Agriculture Minister last week.
Mr Crean said the industry had embraced the need for significant changes to ensure the transport of live sheep to the Middle East was improved to safeguard against high mortality voyages, like the tragic deaths of 2400 sheep on a voyage to the Arabian Gulf in August 2017.
“Exporters have confirmed their support for an independent observer, under the direction of the regulator, to travel on voyages to the Middle East during the 2018 Northern Hemisphere summer,” Mr Crean said.
“A reduced stocking density and additional welfare safeguards and indicators will be applied to all shipments of Australian sheep to the Middle East during the Northern Hemisphere’s high summer period.”
Exporters also voted at today’s meeting to support the establishment of an Inspector General for the Welfare of Exported Animals.
“The role of Inspector General would help oversee independence and cultural change in our industry and work constructively with exporters to improve animal welfare outcomes,” Mr Crean said.
ALEC believes the Inspector General position could be an extension to the current role of the Inspector General for Biosecurity.
Exporters also voted in favour of the establishment of the Livestock Global Assurance Program (LGAP).
“Our commitment to major change and long-term industry sustainability is clearly demonstrated today by the unanimous endorsement for the establishment of LGAP,” Mr Crean said.
LGAP is designed to deliver improved Export Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) compliance by applying responsibility for welfare across international livestock export supply chains.
The next stage in the reform process is to work closely with the Minister for Agriculture, including on the establishment of LGAP and his Department’s ongoing regulation of the livestock export industry.
“Today, the livestock export industry delivers on its commitment to change,” Mr Crean said.
“Exporters are listening to the community and acting decisively to achieve change in the industry. The welfare of the animals and the future of our industry depends on it.”