Ships of Shame - People's Struggle to Ban Live Animal Export
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On Friday 20 April, hundreds of people held a demonstration at Port Adelaide to demand the banning of live animal exports from Australia.
This follows the revelation by animal care groups of the shocking treatment of sheep exported by ships for slaughter and consumption in overseas countries.
The demonstration coincided with the expected arrival at Port Adelaide of the live sheep carrier, Bader 111 which the RSPCA said "has an appalling record of extreme animal suffering and mass deaths."
The RSPCA called for the immediate phase out of live animal exports.
Further demonstrations are to follow. Even Liberal Party leaders and Shorten are being forced to appear to be doing something about this issue.
The Bader 111 is one of three animal export ships that packs animals into two levels of pens on each deck which makes welfare checks during a sea journey of up to three weeks nigh impossible.
At the demonstration on Friday at Port Adelaide, the AMIEU (meat workers union) state secretary, Sharra Anderson, said the live animal export industry had cost 40,000 abattoir jobs in Australia over the last twenty years. The demonstrators included mainly women and children with one woman saying, "I think that it's important to raise children who are kind and ethical who know what's going on around them."
The "ethics" of the live animal export corporations are the ethics of exploitation and maximising profit. What other conclusions could be drawn when seeing the conditions in which these animals are transported and the cramming of up to 75,000 in one vessel with three sheep to one square metre space!
The live animal export industry is big business with $1.8 billion made each year from live animal exports. In the year ending March 2018, there were 894,176 cattle, 1.9 million sheep and 14,423 goats exported live to abattoirs overseas.
It is not only the plight of the animals that is a concern. The ships’ crews are usually impoverished workers from developing countries where any attempts to organise are suppressed and with insufficient crew numbers to look after the animals in a humane way.
The live animal export industry corporations claim that loss of the live animal export trade will ruin the cattle and sheep station owners in Australia because the countries importing live sheep and cattle have customs and culture that utilise the whole animal as a food source and therefore live animal imports from countries like Australia are required. This claim is doubtful as animals processed for human consumption can be carried out in Australia in a manner consistent with the demands of the importing country as was the case before the live animal export industry boomed in the 1990s.
The reaction by people towards the cruelty of live animal exports is a good thing and shows that in the age of social media and rapid communication systems it is becoming harder and harder for capitalism to hide its atrocities against humans, other species and the environment on which all species depend for their livelihoods.
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