Live export operations found wanting at Fremantle Port

A report into live export inspections at Fremantle Port uncovers inadequacies across the supply chain

Live export operations found wanting at Fremantle Port
Llive export operations found wanting at Fremantle Port

By Anna Game-Lopata | March 27, 2013

A report into live export inspection operations at Fremantle Port has uncovered inadequacies across the supply chain.

The Fremantle Review identified competency failings among the people who interact with the animals from sourcing to the loading of vessels, and confusion about their roles and responsibilities.

Undertaken by a committee comprising government, export industry and animal welfare experts, the investigation also found a lack of proper record keeping throughout the different stages of the inspection process, starting from receipt of the animals at registered premises.

This revealed ignorance about to how often information must be documented, who keeps the information and to whom it must be made available when required.

Among many recommendations, the report says the animal welfare inspectors responsible should have free access throughout the export chain up to and including the point of loading, to ensure compliance with state and territory Animal Welfare Acts.

At each point in the supply chain, inspection procedures and facilities are in place to allow the identification and removal of unfit animals in a timely manner to ensure that animals unfit for transport or export are not transported to the next stage," the report says.

Australia’s Chief Veterinarian Mark Schipp
headed the committee commissioned in July 2012 to undertake the investigation at Fremantle Port.

He tells SupplyChain Review
the Fremantle
Port investigation
aimed to ensure livestock exported from Australia
is healthy and fit for export.

"This included identifying animals unsuitable for export early in the process so that they could be removed from the supply chain as soon as possible," Schipp says.

"The live animal export chain begins in Australia before the livestock are loaded onto the ships,
so processes must be in place to ensure high standards of animal health and welfare.

"This also recognises the exporter’s responsibility to ensure that the animals under their care are healthy and fit for export," he says.

"Looking at the bigger picture, [the review] will support the long-term sustainability of the live animal export trade by securing our reputation as an exporter of high quality and healthy livestock."

The Fremantle Review was commissioned as a result of Bill Farmer AO’s Independent Review of Australia’s Livestock Export Trade in 2011.

Farmer was concerned about the number of sheep he saw on the day that had arrived at the wharf unfit for export and the inspection process at the wharf.

This was followed by a number of consignments in 2012 unable to unload on arrival in the designated country of destination with considerable public concern and media attention.

The Farmer Review noted Fremantle Port in particular, was acting outside the 2011 Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) by staging final individual inspections by the pre-export Australian accredited veterinarian at the wharf.

"This adds significant pressure to the loading process," Farmer’s report observed, adding the inspection arrangements at Fremantle should be looked at.

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of live animals with many of these exported from the southern ports of Fremantle, Adelaide and Portland.

In 2011, Australia exported 123,993 cattle and 1,671,357 sheep (almost 70 percent of total Australian live sheep exports) from Fremantle Port.

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