THE long-awaited final report on the Review of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL): sea transport, along with a response by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) was released today.
The report was provided to the secretary of the department on December 14, 2018, and since then department staff have carried out additional industry engagement - which raised questions by the Pastoralists and Graziers Association and WAFarmers about the submission process and also the decision making process of the technical advisory committee which carried out the review.
Both organisations will be reviewing the report this week before providing a detailed response.
DAWR has accepted all 49 recommendations in the report, either in full or in principle, and will implement them this year.
DAWR said the review addressed the export of livestock by sea, from sourcing and preparation through to the management of livestock on-board vessels.
The review recommended an allometric approach to calculating stocking densities, which will require more space for livestock on most exports.
It recommends an alternative stocking option for short cattle voyages, where there is proven and continued high performance by the exporter and the vessel.
It also recommended that a Heat Stress Risk Assessment (HSRA) be applied to all voyages that cross the equator, which will require further model development to cover additional routes.
Until then, HSRA will continue to apply to voyages to or through the Middle East.
Other key recommendations focused on increased animal welfare reporting and enhanced sourcing and preparation requirements to support animal welfare outcomes.
The ASEL set requirements that livestock exporters must meet to ensure animals were fit to export from Australia, and their health and welfare was managed throughout the export voyage.
The ASEL review was undertaken to ensure the standards for live exports were fit-for-purpose and reflected the latest science.
The technical advisory committee was chaired by Steve McCutcheon, and included experts in animal health and welfare, regulatory design and the livestock industry.
Some have questioned the lack of industry representation on the committee, however DAWR said it had considered scientific literature, advice from a Stakeholder Reference Group made up of industry representative bodies, submissions provided through three rounds of public consultation, reports from independent observers on recent voyages and other relevant information.
It also considered outcomes from the review of conditions for the export of sheep to the Middle East during the northern hemisphere summer by Dr Michael McCarthy.
The standards are being updated with the committee's recommendations.
The department has committed to conducting regular consultative reviews of the standards based on science, evidence and international practice.
This will contribute towards continuous improvement of the standards and animal welfare outcomes.
A review of the standards relating to livestock exports by air will be undertaken in 2019.
Interim Inspector-General appointed
THE Interim Inspector-General of Live Animal Exports (IIGLAE), Ross Carter, has started in his role this week, providing independent oversight of the regulator.
He will be in the role for 12 months, pending completion of legislation to establish the statutory appointment.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said Mr Carter would bring impartiality and extensive experience to the role, having had "20 years' experience in regulatory practice, public administration and related academic studies".
Mr Littleproud promised to "reset the live export industry, and this is another important step in delivering on that promise".
Installing an additional layer of oversight to the industry with the appointment of an Inspector General was a recommendation of the Moss Review.
"Mr Carter will audit and review the systems and processes that underpin the department's regulation of livestock exports," Mr Littleproud said.
"This oversight will improve confidence for our farmers, industry and the community in the regulation of livestock exports."
Lobby group welcomes report
WAFARMERS has welcomed the final report and said the interim measures announced were consistent with the position that WAFarmers has advocated to both the regulators and federal politicians.
WAFarmers lodged a submission to the regulators calling for no further changes to live sheep export conditions for 2019 and sent a number of delegations to Canberra to strongly represent the views of WA sheep producers.
Livestock section president David Slade said the new measurers would allow time for an evaluation of the significant changes already put in place by industry since April 2018.
"This period will also allow time to collect data on the proposed animal welfare model that is still
theoretical and has yet to be tested under actual voyage conditions," Mr Slade said.
"Analysis of this data will determine whether the current changes to the regulations have resulted in the required animal welfare outcomes or if further fine tuning is needed.
WAFarmers also stressed the importance of objective, timely and transparent reporting to provide assurance that meets the animal welfare expectations of both sheep producers and the wider community.