The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) reiterates its unwavering stance against the live export of animals by sea, emphasising the severe implications on animal welfare.  The recent incident involving the MV Bahijah, an Australian live export ship stranded amid deteriorating security in the Middle East, underscores the inherent risks associated with this mode of transportation.

The MV Bahijah, carrying thousands of Australian sheep and cattle, left Australia for the Middle East, on 5 January 2024, only to be diverted from its route through the Red Sea due to escalating attacks on cargo ships in the region.  The NSPCA received news on Friday, 19 January 2024 that the ship had changed course, heading towards East London in the Eastern Cape.

Dr Bryce Marock, NSPCA Veterinary Consultant, comments that the NSPCA was in contact with the South African government, expressing concerns about the MV Bahijah.  The NSPCA was at the ready to meet the ship at the harbour, to inspect and ensure the welfare of the animals onboard.

The Australian government, in response to the deteriorating security situation, has ordered the live export ship’s return to Australia after being at sea for 15 days.

This incident underscores the inherent and avoidable risks associated with the live export of animals by sea.  It is deeply concerning that despite possessing full knowledge of the escalating security situation in the Red Sea, exporters proceeded with the voyage, putting the well-being of thousands of animals at stake.

Such incidents emphasise the urgent need for a paradigm shift, where the welfare of animals takes precedence over financial considerations.  The ongoing pursuit of live export, despite clear awareness of potential dangers, reflects a disregard for the ethical treatment of animals and reinforces the imperative for decisive legislative action to address this inherently risky practice.

The NSPCA urges governments to prioritise animal welfare and take decisive actions to strictly regulate the live export of animals by sea. The NSPCA advocates for the transport of animals in carcass form as a more humane alternative.

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