Australia looks at banning elderly livestock carriers

The Australian government is looking at banning elderly ships being used for live export to the Middle East.

Transport minister Darren Chester has revealed the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is currently reviewing Marine Order 43, which governs the age of export ships as well as welfare conditions for animals being carried.

The review comes in the wake of another exposé into a deadly livestock shipment. The 37-year-old Al Messilah, which arrived in Doha from Australia in July last year, saw some 3,000 of the 69,322 animals it was transporting perish in the heat of the Gulf. News of the deaths only just came to light following a freedom of information request from an NGO.

Western Australia’s agriculture minister Alannah MacTiernan has since sought advice from the solicitor-general as to whether state animal cruelty laws could be used against exporters in extreme cases.

Chester, the nation’s transport minister, also said that the AMSA review would look at the possibility of banning double tier vessels over fears that animals on such ships are too cramped.

Commenting on the news, veterinarian and regular Splash contributor Dr Lynn Simpson said the bans should go further.

“All livestock carriers operating from Australia have at least some enclosed decks, so all run the risk of mechanical ventilation with no mitigating strategies by ship manoeuvring,” Simpson said, adding that she felt it best if there was a blanket ban on all live export sailings during the Middle Eastern summer period.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. There is a precedent for this, Ms MacTiernan, but the WA case was lost on a Constitutional technology – that live exports happen under Commonwealth law, not state, and Commonwealth :aw trumps states. I think that could be argued under a separate section of the Constitution (that the laws of the states shall be protected). Refer the Al Kuwait case.

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