Australian gov't resists calls for live animal export ban following mass sheep deaths

CANBERRA, April 10 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government has sidestepped calls for live animal exports to be banned during the northern summer months, despite rising anger about the mass deaths of Australian sheep at sea.

Confronting footage was aired on Australian TV on Sunday night of sheep crowded into a small space aboard a ship bound for the Middle East, workers throwing dead sheep overboard, and faeces-covered pens where animals stood panting or collapsed on the ground.

More than 2,400 sheep died from heat stress aboard the live export ship, the MV Awassi Express, used by a Western Australia-based company, during a voyage between Australia and Qatar in August 2017.

The vision has angered many Australians and reignited the debate about live animal exports, with activists wanting the practice banned given the conditions the animals are forced to endure on voyages that sometimes last three weeks.

But both the government and opposition are resisting calls for the ban, as are farmers who say the trade is too important to warrant a halt.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud was quoted on Tuesday as saying he would launch a review into the regulator's investigative capability and powers, and beef up protections for whistleblowers exposing animal cruelty.

Littleproud met with animal activists on Monday to discuss welfare aboard live export ships.

"The reality is, I'm going to make sure we put a framework and an environment where we can give comfort to the community," he told Australian TV.

He said the government would also look to impose tougher penalties on exporters, and their management, who flouted rules on transporting live animals.

[ Editor: Xueying ]


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