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Mechanical issues force cattle ship back to WA

Beef Central, 10/09/2013

A vessel carrying 5200 Australian cattle struck mechanical issues after two days at sea and has returned to Fremantle for repairs.

A statement released by the Australian Livestock Exporters Council this morning said the Pearl of Para left port on September 4 for a three week transit to Israel carrying Brahman cross cattle.

However, after encountering a propeller shaft coupling problem, the Captain decided on September 7 to return because this was the best way to protect the welfare of cattle and crew while conducting repairs.

The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council, CEO Alison Penfold said:

“The exporter, Alan Schmidt of AH & R Schmidt Pty Ltd, completely supports the captain. Even though this vessel is only 90% loaded and cattle have extra space, plenty of clean fresh water, feed and bedding, and full ventilation, returning to port is the best way to protect the crew, the animals on board, and to seek quick repairs.”

“The welfare of these cattle is paramount and the exporter is making sure there are no issues. Arrangements have been made for DAFF inspectors to board the vessel, to assure themselves of the health and welfare of the cattle, and advise if they have any concerns.

“Although this trip had just begun, the on board vet and two stockmen, as a matter of standard procedure are regularly updating DAFF on the welfare and health, of what is an extremely robust group of healthy and well settled cattle. There will be an opportunity to replenish feed supplies following repairs. The stockmen have been instructed to feed the cattle extra fodder.

Ms Penfold said that the exporter would be in a position to decide whether the cattle need to be off- loaded and trans-shipped as soon as he has a report regarding the complexity of the repairs required to the vessel and the time needed to affect these repairs.

“The cattle are settled and it is very early in the shipment. Subject to professional advice, we think the best welfare will be maintained by avoiding unnecessary movement, unloading and reloading. All of the services for the livestock such as feed and water systems and ventilation are working perfectly.

“However, we need to monitor this closely. If repairs can be completed in a timely manner, then the overall duration on board for cattle will be well within normal travel times for the type of livestock on board and the high standard of the vessel. If repairs take longer, we will either tranship the cattle to another vessel or unload the cattle, and hold them until the vessel is ready to depart. This process will be managed in close co operation with DAFF and all other authorities.

“The exporter will ask DAFF and DAFWA staff, to watch this process and ensure welfare is maintained and that the new vessel, if required, is fully stocked with feed, bedding and all additional requirements.”

Ms Penfold said the exporter was working with DAFF and the WA Department of Agriculture to assist their necessary biosecurity assessments as this vessel had briefly entered international waters.

The exporter had advised Israeli authorities of the mechanical problems and was working with them and customers to ensure they are fully informed and consulted on measures being taken.

The vessel has anchored off Fremantle. “The assessment by the engineers will allow the exporter to determine the appropriate contingency option to be undertaken. Exporters are required by Australian regulations to have a contingency plan in place for such circumstances, Ms Penfold said.”


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