U-turn on the High Seas: Massive Livestock Ship Forced to Head Back Down Under

"Security Concerns Force Livestock Ship MV Bahijah to Return to Australian Port"

Livestock Ship Carrying Thousands of Animals Directed to Return to Australia Due to Security Risks in the Red Sea

A livestock ship named MV Bahijah, loaded with thousands of cattle and sheep destined for the Middle East, has been directed to return to Australia due to security risks in the Red Sea. The ship is currently anchored off Fremantle, a port city in western Australia (WA), after its attempted route to the Middle East was disrupted. According to Humane Society International Australia, there are an estimated 15,000 sheep and 2,000 cattle on board the ship. These animals have been on board since the ship departed Australia on January 5. The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) stated that the vessel diverted away from the Red Sea due to the worsening security situation. On January 20, the DAFF confirmed that it had directed the exporter to immediately return the consignment to Australia.

The DAFF released a statement on Monday, January 29, stating that they have been working closely with the exporter to determine the next steps for the consignment once it returns to Australian waters. The statement emphasized that the decision to return the livestock to Australia was made in recognition of the exceptional circumstances and with consideration for animal welfare. The department acknowledged that the livestock on board are high-quality Australian animals and assured that they would be subject to strict biosecurity controls while in Australia. Protecting Australia’s strong biosecurity system and the welfare of the animals on board remain the department’s top priorities.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Western Australia (RSPCA WA) has called for all livestock onboard the MV Bahijah to be offloaded as soon as possible. RSPCA CEO Ben Cave expressed concern about the heatwave conditions forecasted for the remainder of the week, stating that the animals have already spent nearly a month in cramped conditions on rolling seas, standing in their own waste. He emphasized that there is no humane choice but to get them off the ship now, as sending them back out to sea on an even longer voyage would be cruel and barbaric. Cave also called for greater transparency regarding the welfare of the animals on board, suggesting that independent vets and animal welfare inspectors should be on board to ensure their well-being. He emphasized that any animals of concern can be quarantined and dealt with appropriately, as they have not left the ship since being loaded in Australia.

The situation with MV Bahijah highlights the importance of prioritizing animal welfare and ensuring the safety of livestock during transportation. It also raises questions about the security risks faced by livestock ships in certain regions and the measures that need to be taken to protect both the animals and the crew. As the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry continues to work with the exporter to determine the best course of action, it is crucial that the welfare of the animals remains at the forefront of decision-making.

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

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