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  • Australia's sea trade in live sheep to slaughter is to end in 4 years

  • Compassion in World Farming announces: 
    Bill to ban live exports passes in British Parliament

Australia’s sea trade in live sheep to slaughter in foreign countries will end on 1st May 2028.

This historic announcement was made by Australia’s Agriculture Minister, Murray Watt, this week.

The 4-year phase-out comes in the wake of decades-long international outcries against the torment and unimaginable suffering of animals aboard livestock carriers which take weeks and even months to reach the destination of slaughter.


Director of Strategy for Animals Australia, veterinarian Dr Lynn Sampson attained world-wide recognition in her relentless campaign for a ban on the trade in Australian sheep to slaughter. Elated at Minister Watt’s announcement this week, she said: “At last, we can now count down towards the day that the last sheep shipment will leave our shores.”

In terms of the transition away from live exports, the Australian government announced financial aid of $107 million over five years for sheep producers to adjust to the phase-out.


Minister Watt also noted that while live sheep exports had shrunk by $338 million over the past 20 years, sheep meat exports had grown by more than 300% over the same period.

Centuries of inconceivable suffering

The fight against the inhumanity of sea transport to slaughter started long before today! English politician Samuel Plimsoll revealed the horrors of the trans-Atlantic trade between North America and Britain in his book Cattle Ships, published in 1890.


In the book, he described the horrors of live cattle, penned too closely together to be able to lie down, being trampled to death as the ship heaved in stormy weather. He revealed the torture inflicted upon sick and exhausted animals being forced to stand up after having fallen, by pouring petroleum into their ears.


A year after the publication of Cattle Ships, Plimsoll took his cause to the other side of the trans-Atlantic cattle trade. He went to Toronto, Quebec and Montreal and found himself angrily accused of trying to annihilate the Canadian beef trade.

(Information courtesy: The Plimsoll Sensation: The Great Campaign to Save Lives at Sea by Nicolette Jones)



New Zealand enacts a world-leading ban on the live export by sea of cows, sheep, deer and goats.


Australia initiates a 4-year phase-out of sheep exports.


Britain’s Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill 2023-24 prohibiting the live export of cattle, sheep and pigs, passes Parliament.

Is a Europe-wide ban next?

Sadly, South Africa’s trade is set to continue despite vociferous objections…

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Dewald Olivier,

CEO of South Africa’s Red Meat Association,

agreed to speak to Animal Voice.

Here he defends SA’s continuation of the trade in live animals to slaughter.

“First prize would be to have all slaughter kept within South Africa so that meat is exported as carcasses or specific cuts.This is our approach when negotiating with importing countries. We prefer to export a product and not an animal.


But there is a fine balance in the agricultural sector. We do export beef and mutton but if we say no to live exports to countries like Kuwait and Saudi, then we are saying to our local farmers that they can’t export their animals because there is no market. If we are talking sheep, for instance, there is not enough of a market for mutton within South Africa, so small-scale farmers would farm at a loss and go out of business if they were not permitted to export live animals.


We want our farmers to farm sustainably, and so we export live animals and we adhere to international welfare standards, and demand feedback in terms of log sheets and statistics on every shipment. We appoint independent observers on every shipment and have a protocol based on the Australian model, which we are continually trying to improve. South Africa has a vested interest in prioritising animal welfare, particularly to mitigate the risk of disease transmission.


For instance, a recent incident involving a ship from Brazil raised significant concerns when it arrived at Table Bay harbour in Cape Town.

The vessel carried cattle that could have been vaccinated for the O or A type of Foot and Mouth Disease, a strain potentially different and more severe than the one commonly found in South Africa. Such an introduction could have endangered local livestock, which is entirely naïve to this strain. Consequently, the authorities decided against offloading the animals. While it remains unclear whether the animals were indeed infected with the disease, the situation was notably problematic, evoking a strong reaction at the port.


I can understand why some believe ‘humane slaughter’ and ‘humane shipments’ to be misnomers but we are trying to transport animals as humanely as possible and we are continually improving our protocols while at the same time, reassessing what is best for the industry as a whole, weighing up and balancing the feeding of people, growing the economy especially for small-scale farmers, and ensuring compliance with protocols and continually improving these protocols.


If there is to be no live transport to slaughter in foreign countries, then you need to challenge the National Agricultural Marketing Act. But I believe that the ‘big win’ lies in finding a middle ground. I have a lot of respect for the NSPCA and I would rather work with them than fight with them. Yes, we will disagree on certain things but let’s accommo-date each other and change what we can.”

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Please help South Africa to join the move to a kinder world.

Please sign our petition, so that this photograph can truly represent the end of an horrific era for animals.

Read about the kind of horror our animals face in their transport to slaughter in Mauritius and the Middle East.

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