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Sheep still in limbo after second live exporter licence suspended

Sheep still in limbo after second live exporter licence suspended article image

The company at the centre of the live sheep trade scandal has had a second export licence suspended by the Agriculture Department.

Emanuel Exports' sister company, EMS Rural, had applied for a permit to send tens of thousands of sheep to the Middle East.

It is understood the department rejected the permit because it was an "associated entity" of Emanuel Exports, which has already had its licence suspended over animal welfare breaches.

The regulator (the Agriculture Department) temporarily banned its licence last month after pictures emerged of dead and heat-stressed sheep aboard one of its voyages.

More than 2,000 sheep died on that voyage and the incident sparked a government review of the trade.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association President Tony Seabrook told the ABC he believed about 45,000 of the original 60,000 sheep that were left stranded at a pre-export feed lot at Fremantle Port when Emanuel's license was first cancelled would be shipped to Qatar, if permission was granted by the federal regulator.

The Al Shuwaikh ship has been docked at Fremantle port and had been awaiting approval to take more than 40,000 sheep to Kuwait. A smaller shipment to the UAE was expected to follow.

Ongoing investigation

The department said it could not go into detail about the temporary suspension due to the ongoing investigation.

In a statement it said the sheep to be exported remained in a registered feedlot.

"The sheep have been inspected by the department's veterinarians; they are in good health and well-cared for," the statement said.

"Arrangements for these animals remain the responsibility of the exporter.

"Exporters are also responsible for ensuring they meet all animal welfare requirements imposed under Commonwealth and state law."

Western Australian Agriculture Minister Allanah MacTiernan welcomed the Federal Government's decision, urging Emanuel Exports to restore credibility to the industry.

"Let's just all accept that we're not going to be taking sheep out into the Middle East over the next two months, and look at restoring the credibility of the trade at a time when it is safer to do so," she said.

No power to interfere

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said he had no power to interfere with the operations of the independent regulator.

"All decisions on live export licensing, issuing of export permits and related matters are made by the independent regulator alone," the minister said in a statement.

He said he had signed an order enabling photographs and information from the independent observer on all live export ships to be made public from every journey.

Minister Littleproud said another review into the trade by former public servant Philip Moss was due to deliver its findings in late August.

Emanuel Exports released a statement saying it would "cooperate fully" with the Agriculture Department's review.

Source: ABC Rural

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