Future of animals on live export ship still unknown

A decision is yet to be made on the fate of about 16,000 animals being offloaded from the MV Bahijah after the livestock carrier was forced to return to port.

A senate hearing has been told seven more cattle died since being offloaded on Monday, on top of four earlier cattle deaths and 60 sheep deaths, all below the reportable levels. 

The ship was turned back after five-and-a-half weeks at sea due to Houthi rebel attacks in the Red Sea and arrived at Fremantle port to be unloaded. 

Livestock carrier at dock
Livestock carrier MV Bahijah arrived at Fremantle port after a five-and-a-half week voyage.

Department of Agriculture secretary Adam Fennessy said the exporter and department were still in discussions about what happens to the animals.

"The future of the livestock is currently a matter for the commercial exporter," Mr Fennessy said.

"The department is working with the commercial exporter to help them determine the next steps."

The animals remain under the watch of veterinary care and supervision.

"We've confirmed that there is no evidence of any exotic animal diseases and we've confirmed we have robust biosecurity processes in place to manage the livestock," Mr Fennessy said. 

All of the animals are expected to be offloaded by Wednesday.

The hearing was told the department took two weeks from ordering the ship's return to Australia before rejecting an application for the animals to be re-exported.

"It ( the decision) took longer on the face of it from an external perspective if you weren't aware of the complexity of the process," Mr Fennessy said.

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