September 23, 2013
The Pearl of Para, a livestock export vessel carrying 5240 head of Australian cattle, was last night cleared to depart Fremantle port after essential repairs were undertaken.
The vessel initially departed Australia on 4 September 2013, bound for Israel, but returned on 10 September 2013 after it experienced a propulsion engine breakdown about 300km off the Australian coast. The average voyage length to Israel is three weeks.
Ensuring the welfare of the cattle has been the highest priority for the exporter and the Department of Agriculture, as the export regulator.
The department also worked with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, who assessed the vessel following the repairs for compliance with legislative provisions including suitability to carry livestock.
The cattle on the vessel are in good health. All livestock support systems are functioning well and there has been no impact on the health and welfare of the cattle from the mechanical issues. There have been no mortalities to date.
The department has received daily reports from the exporter’s Australian Government accredited veterinarian confirming the animal health and welfare status of the cattle.
Department of Agriculture vets and welfare inspectors from the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA) have verified the cattle’s continued health and welfare and that they meet Israel’s importing country requirements.
The department welcomed the exporter’s initiative to invite the RSPCA on board for an independent assessment of the cattle’s welfare. A representative from the Western Australian Livestock Exporters’ Association was also present. The RSPCA inspection confirmed the Department of Agriculture and DAFWA’s assessment that the cattle were in good health and able to continue their journey.
The department has ensured that additional feed, bedding and veterinary supplies have been provided to ensure the ongoing health and welfare for the entire voyage.
The department will continue to receive daily reports from the exporter’s Australian Government accredited veterinarian who will remain with the cattle until they have been offloaded.
The department has briefed industry and animal welfare organisations on the incident.
In 2012, more than 48,000 head of Australian cattle were successfully exported to Israel. Australia’s livestock trade to Israel was worth approximately $54 million in 2011—12.