Wellard ship leaves with cattle for Asia

13 Jan, 2016 01:00 AM
Cattle onboard the M/V Ocean Outback are now destined for South East Asia.
Cattle onboard the M/V Ocean Outback are now destined for South East Asia.

AFTER being stranded off Perth's coastline for two weeks, Wellard's vessel, the M/V Ocean Outback, is limping on one engine destined for Vietnam, after departing from Fremantle on Sunday.

The 5500 cattle and 7500 sheep on board were destined for Israel, but the vessel suffered engine trouble on December 29, before leaving the harbour.

The sheep were offloaded on Saturday night and transported to a Pre-Export Quarantine feedlot, after being inspected by a federal Department of Agriculture veterinarian, a Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) animal welfare officer and an RSPCA inspector, before being cleared to proceed.

The vessel had been docked at Henderson since December 31.

Wellard last week announced the ship's engine problems could not be fixed in Australia, and the vessel would not make the voyage to Israel.

Wellard had been working with the owner of the sheep and cattle on board the vessel, Otway Livestock Exports, to use Wellard's large international network to locate a closer alternative market for the sheep and cattle, and have made arrangements to proceed to South East Asia.

The livestock were also purchased by Wellard prior as part of the new arrangement.

The Ocean Outback was brought into Fremantle port over the weekend to load additional fodder and bedding so the vessel could proceed with its voyage with the cattle on board.

Wellard said the cattle will be supplied to a regular buyer of Australian cattle which is Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) accredited, assuring the best animal welfare outcome.

On Sunday, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources officials, working closely with DAFWA and Australian Maritime Safety Authority staff, approved the proposal to unload sheep and leave the cattle on board for export.

The veterinarians said the sheep were in good condition and there were no injuries during the unloading and trucking of the sheep to registered premises.

A biosecurity risk assessment informed the requirements of the sheep being unloaded and strict measures are in place to protect the biosecurity status of the WA sheep flock.

This includes that the sheep be moved to registered premises and kept isolated from the national livestock herd.

DAFWA veterinarians will undertake regular stock inspections to monitor their health.

The sheep will remain at the registered premises until they can be re-exported or processed at an accredited export abattoir.

DAFWA will regulate any movement of the sheep off the premises.

On Saturday evening, all animals on board were also inspected by departmental and Australian government accredited veterinarians alongside independent experts.

No concerns for the welfare of the animals were identified and they were found to be in excellent condition.

Departmental officials inspected the cattle prior to departure to ensure they were fit for travel and certify that all importing country requirements had been met.

The exporter loaded medicines, fodder and bedding materials in excess of the normally required levels.

Cattle on board were provided additional space following the unloading of the sheep.

Wellard said the vessel was more than capable to make its voyage to South East Asia as it was constructed with a Dual Independent Propulsion System, so it could safely operate on one of its two engines.

It has previously completed successful short voyages using a single engine.

"Both the WA and federal governments and departments have been very responsive and supportive to expedite a solution to this issue and I want to publicly acknowledge their support," said Wellard chief executive officer Mauro Balzarini.

Wellard sister ship, the M/V Ocean Swagman, is also stranded off South America with mechanical issues.

The company, which listed on the Australian Stock Exchange only weeks ago, said in a statement on Friday, it had taken a precautionary decision not to load the Ocean Swagman with cattle in Montevideo, Uruguay, as had been planned.

Instead it decided to undertake mechanical works on the vessel to confirm it complied with Wellard's safety, operational and efficiency requirements for long haul voyages.

Farm Weekly also understands that Wellard's abattoir and meat processing facility, Beaufort River Meats, closed for a few days due to equipment issues extra to its Christmas break, but processing was resumed last Friday.

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Katrina Love
13/01/2016 10:32:39 AM, on Farm Weekly

"A biosecurity risk assessment informed the requirements of the sheep being unloaded and strict measures are in place to protect the biosecurity status of the WA sheep flock. " That's an odd statement - I followed the first truck to leave Fremantle port, laden with sheep who had been unloaded from the Ocean Outback, from Freo to Baldivis, and I continually had to clean my windscreen of the crap flying onto it from the truck - one assumes this is also falling onto the road over which other livestock trucks and other vehicles pass before entering other feedlots and properties. Top job.
13/01/2016 3:28:25 PM, on Farm Weekly

Australia should be ashamed it's about time the government stopped this sort of trade of live animals being sent on long journeys only to face a horrific death in another country. They should be humanely slaughtered at least, then sent on refrigerated boats.


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