FREMANTLE Port was a bottleneck for livestock exporters last week as three vessels lined the docks waiting for loading.
Tourists took snaps of the Maysora and the Yangtze Harmony as the engines reverberated across the water and road trains lined up to off-load their cargo.
Rural Export and Trading WA’s vessel, the Al Shuwaikh, was on the other side of port at the same time.
While everyone’s attention has been on Livestock Shipping Services (LSS) and its Maysora consignment, which was meant to be followed by the Al Shuwaikh, the Yangtze Harmony slipped in and loaded 15,000 head of sheep and then departed while the others still waited.
Harmony Agriculture and Food Company director Steve Meerwald confirmed its involvement in the “small consignment” of sheep expected to arrive at the port of Muscat in Oman on Saturday, November 24.
The 15-day voyage will be the first after the company announced its focus for the business would be more on domestic processing, while exporting to clients in Oman and China when the opportunity arose.
LSS was believed to have been stalled at the port for a few extra days while paperwork and approvals were sorted out with the Department of Agriculture, as well as Israel.
The Maysora left port on Saturday for the southern Israeli port of Eilat in the Gulf of Aqaba carrying a consignment of sheep and cattle.
It is expected to arrive on Wednesday, November 28.
The Al Shuwaikh has since taken up its loading position and departed for the Persian Gulf State of Kuwait with 59,000 head of sheep on board.
It will offload at Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The voyage will be the first shipment to Kuwait since Emanuel Exports had its licence suspended and then cancelled.
The movement in sheep to overseas markets is a positive sign for the livestock industry which has been lurking in uncharted waters since April.
In the past few weeks livestock prices have risen by $10-$15 per head in the saleyards (for shippers) highlighting the industry’s comments that with more competition in the market there is a better return for producers.
Last week there was also positive news for International Livestock Export (ILE) that the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR), which issued it with a ‘show cause’ notice in September, had decided to take no further action.
ILE had responded to the notice that it was not possible for it to export sheep to Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman, given the requirement for an approved export program to supply those markets, which would require approval by DAWR.
ILE managing director Michael Stanton said “ILE has no intention to supply these markets”.
Mr Stanton received advice from DAWR that “having considered this matter, it has decided to take no action”.
“This is welcome news,” Mr Stanton said.
“We have 20,000 cattle in the system for our schedule of shipments.
“If we had to stop operating, this would cause major animal welfare issues and would not be in the best interest of the industry.
“We now look forward to getting on with business.”
ILE is one of Australia’s biggest exporters of live cattle, exporting or arranging processing for about 130,000 cattle a year, most from the Kimberley and Pilbara, exported via Broome and Fremantle to South-East Asia.
It supplies a small number of sheep to the same markets.
WAFarmers Livestock president David Slade said it was a positive outcome and a great relief for cattle producers across WA.
He said WAFarmers questioned the merit of the show cause notice issued to ILE and requested further assurances the company had no intention of applying for a live sheep export licence.
“Cattle producers across WA, particularly in the north of the State are utterly reliant on ILE maintaining its live cattle export licence,” Mr Slade said.
“We welcome the news ILE can continue its vital business.
“If the company had been prevented from operating, this would have resulted in significant animal welfare issues for the industry.
“Everyone involved in this trade acknowledges that fundamental changes that have been made and will be implemented.
“WAFarmers and the wider industry will engage with ILE and all exporters to ensure the highest animal welfare standards are maintained and monitor the progress of this outcome.”