The 14,000 sheep and 1000 cattle that remained on the MV Bahijah commenced unloading on Monday and the vessel was expected to be completely emptied of livestock by Wednesday, according to WAFarmers livestock section president, Geoff Pearson.
Following strict biosecurity protocols the livestock of both species would be taken by truck from Fremantle Port to appropriate premises in Western Australia.
The cattle and sheep will be going to different facilities and the job once the animals are off the vessel is more intensive.
The logistics of such an operation is complex with animal welfare and the State's biosecurity paramount in the preparation and planning for the disembarkation and movement of the animals, Mr Pearson said.
"It has been a long journey to get to this point," Mr Pearson said.
"We will have had four trucks of sheep off by this afternoon (Monday).
"All animals will be unloaded by Wednesday with the cattle most likely finishing later that day and sheep having been completed before then."
Specialised monitoring by veterinarians and custom transport options were utilised to streamline the process and ensure the level of risk for the animals and WA was minimal.
"The sheep are under continuous surveillance by the government appointed vets," Mr Pearson said.
"This is to ensure there are no biosecurity risks that arise after being in foreign waters.
"The sheep are being moved using four specialised trucks.
"They were chosen specifically as they have a closed system that means they can contain the effluent and the crates are more enclosed."
He said there was only one wash down point selected with trucks starting clean for the loading process and then being thoroughly cleaned once unloaded each time also.
With biosecurity measures in place and animal welfare being carefully monitored, Mr Pearson hoped there would not be any further interventions from outside parties that would have a negative impact the welfare of the animals.
"I hope the trucks travelling out of the port and being unloaded, that they are not disturbed or interrupted," he said.
"When we did the first loads of cattle earlier in the month, there was disruptions from people trying to take pictures in the crates and delaying the process, which is just not smart or helping the animals welfare as they claim."
The Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) confirmed the acknowledged disembarkation was a complex process and was approved and underway on Monday, with several hundred head of cattle previously discharged from the vessel on February 3.
"It is anticipated the discharge will take a number of days and all parties involved, including the department, WA government, exporter, transport companies and appropriate premises continue to work collaboratively to ensure the health and safety of the livestock and staff," DAFF said.
"The department will have veterinary officers and biosecurity officers on hand to ensure biosecurity requirements are met.
"While the livestock currently aboard the vessel are high-quality Australian animals, they will remain under strict biosecurity control at appropriate premises while the exporter considers its option."
The veterinarian aboard the vessel continued to update DAFF and the livestock remain in good condition.
As a result on Monday DAFF reported that since January 5, total mortalities on the MV Bahijah stood at four cattle and 60 sheep, below reportable mortality levels.
Mr Pearson said the intention was for as many of the animals to be re-exported, but it was the animals' condition that was a factor stopping some of the animals from being eligible.
"In what should make everyone feel good and shows the animals are well cared for onboard, from when they started the voyage 30 or so days ago, the sheep have gained between 10-20 kilograms and some cattle up to 60kg since being loaded," he said.
This meant that a proportion of the cattle would be too large for their target market and due to larger size of the sheep the stocking density would be reduced.
"When a contingency plan had been set out to export, it was for lesser cargo to adapt to the longhaul voyage, there was a reduction in the stocking density anyway," Mr Pearson said.
"What will now happen is we will take them all off and further reduce the numbers being exported, particularly cattle, to accommodate the size increase."
The decision by DAFF to reject the previous Notice of Intention to export given by the exporter, in relation to the consignment of sheep and cattle onboard MV Bahijah, was addressed last week in an official statement.
The rejection was explained by DAFF acting first assistant secretary, Plant and Live Animal Exports, Welfare and Regulation Division, Andrew McDonald, as delegate to the secretary as required in the Export Control Rules 2021, subsection 8-6(3).
DAFF said the clear public interest in the issue was the driver for their resolution to publish the rationale for their decision.
"I also noted the media attention and that various animal welfare organisations had made submissions opposing the re-export of the livestock," Mr McDonald said.
"I gave some weight to these submissions to the extent that they represented the opinions of a part of the community."
Mr McDonald aimed to clarify the circumstances, underlying reasons, and transparency over the decision-making process and said he considered each of the relevant considerations and all evidence submitted both individually and cumulatively.
Part of the reasoning given was the uncertainty the injunction proceedings in Israel posed.
Let the Animals Live and Animals Now were, the two groups in Israel, responsible for the legal proceedings which caused further delay for DAFF about the fate of the Bahijah, fearing it would result in the ship being refused entry into Israel.
Mr McDonald said he had considered the matter over a period of eight days since his first notice of intention to refuse, due to ongoing developments that had an injurious effect on the process.
"There was also a stream of information received from the Israeli competent authority and animal welfare organisations, including developments in relation to the court proceedings in Israel," he said.
"It is regrettable that this has meant that despite my and the department's best efforts, it was not possible to make a decision earlier.
"The expediency and manner of interactions with the department and other authorities can have a real and detrimental impact on a decision maker's ability to make a timely decision in the interests of best achieving the objects of the Act."
Following the publication of the full statement of reasons by DAFF, the Australian Livestock Exporters Council (ALEC) said it considered the decision detailed and extensive.
Given the exporter is not a member of ALEC, and for this reason chief executive officer, Mark Harvey-Sutton, said he couldn't comment on the validity of its decisions, nor its approach to alternative export plans.
However, he said the decision highlights the importance of available contingency markets when exporting to the region, something that every livestock export consignment must have.
Mr Harvey-Sutton said this finding made clear that animal welfare on the vessel was, and continues to be, exemplary something which was independently verified by DAFF during its decision-making process.
"Time and time again the good animal welfare on the vessel is referenced throughout the decision, highlighting that those saying otherwise were deliberately misrepresenting the truth for nefarious reasons and should be ashamed of themselves," he said.
Mr Harvey-Sutton said the negative and misleading social media activity by activist organisations was nothing more than a marketing campaign to generate donations.
"Make no mistake, these organisations have not missed the opportunity to cynically capitalise on the Bahijah issue as a promotional exercise for themselves. This is how these organisations work and how they generate their funding," he said.
"While this is frustrating, the most galling part is the fact, that while duplicitously calling for a swift resolution to the 'impasse' while DAFF took 17 days to make its decision, both Animals Australia and RSPCA made multiple third-party submissions to the decision maker, effectively prolonging the time the decision took.
"These submissions were largely ignored by the decision maker, but their obligation to consider them simply chewed up further time, with no regard for the health of the sheep and cattle on the vessel.
"ALEC and the broader industry made no such third-party representation, nor sought a preferred outcome out of respect for the independence of the regulator."
He said ALEC would seeking a review of this process and given the clearly detrimental effect submissions from Animal Australia had on the decision maker's ability to make a timely decision, will be asking this loophole is closed immediately.