Activists have ramped up anti-live export campaigns over the weekend, illegally boarding a livestock vessel in Fremantle to obtain footage of animals on board and seizing upon an unfolding animal welfare crisis on a Brazilian owned vessel in the Red Sea to increase calls for a trade ban.
Police yesterday arrested an 18 year old woman who had chained herself to the rail of Wellard Rural Exports’ MV Ocean Shearer as it was loading livestock in Fremantle Port.
She was among a group of protesters representing the Forest Rescue group that climbed on board the ship at 3am carrying video cameras.
Accounts on social media sites said the activists secured 45 minutes of footage on the ship.
“One activist brought the footage to shore, another chained down, she was cut out, but her thumb was injured in doing this and she’s been taken to hospital. The third activist is still on board,” one message posted on Animal Liberation Victoria’s Facebook while police were attending the incident read.
The protest did not disrupt the loading of the vessel.
Police have confirmed the 18 year old may face charges.
Wellard Rural Exports said that while it respected the right of people to voice their opionion, they should operate within the law.
“Wellard Rural Exports respects the right of people to protest in the same way we respect our livestock,” a company statement issued this morning read.
“However everyone needs to abide by the law. The action yesterday was illegal and is now being dealt with by the police.”
Meanwhile Animals Australia has used an unfolding animal welfare crisis involving a Brazilian live export ship currently stranded in the Red Sea to further its calls for a trade ban.
More than 2700 cattle are reported to have died on the recently converted livestock export vessel the MV Gracia Del Mar since it left South America a few weeks ago, with ventilation problems currently being blamed for the fatalities.
The ship has been anchored at sea for a week after being refused port in a number of countries, including Egypt, where its cattle were supposed to be offloaded.
"This is nothing short of an animal welfare disaster. If remaining cattle are not offloaded more of these animals will suffer appalling deaths at sea. We are appealing to authorities in Egypt to offload the remaining cattle at Al Sohkna, as was originally intended,” Animals Australia said in a press release sent to media yesterday.
"Australia also exports cattle to Al Sohkna Livestock company in Egypt. Whilst we have an MoU with Egypt which should ensure the offloading of our animals, it has never been put to the test. The Egyptians thus far have flatly refused to allow the MV Gracia Del Mar to dock despite the mass suffering of the animals on board.
"If they continue to refuse to allow the surviving animals to be unloaded it would provide little confidence that the non-binding agreement with Australia would be honoured if a similar incident were to occur on an Australian livestock ship."
In response Australian live export industry leaders have emphasised that Australian exporters comply with world’s best practice governing animal welfare.
“We’re aware of the situation and we hope it is resolved very quickly and expeditiously,” Australian Livestock Export Council chief executive officer Alison Penfold told Beef Central from Jakarta this morning.
“We understand the vessel in question does not service the live export trade out of Australia and does not meet the stringent standards set by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
“For example in terms of ventilation systems, Australian vessels require a back-up power system, so if the system fails there are secondary generators to power the ventilation system, and that is standard set for vessels servicing Australia and I don’t believe it is a standard that is set elsewhere.”
US state ramps up penalties for illegal video recording of livestock
The illegal boarding of the MV Ocean Shearer coincides with the passing of a bill in the US state of Iowa last week which makes it a crime to surreptitiously enter agricultural operations to record images and video footage.
Iowa is the nation's leading pork and egg producer, with more than 19 million pigs and 54 million egg-laying chickens in barns and buildings.
Its farms have been heavily targeted in recent years by groups seeking to publicise animal handling practices such as confining sows and chickens in small crates.
The Iowa measure is specifically targeted to stop a ploy by animal rights campaigners to pose as job applicants on farms. The law establishes a new penalty for lying on a job application to get access to a farm facility.
Legislatures in seven other states — Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York and Utah— are also reported to be considering similar laws to enhance penalties against those who secretly record video of livestock.