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Numerous Animals Unload from Ship During Export Uncertainty

Hundreds of cattle are back on land for the first time in almost a month after the export ship carrying them was forced to return due to conflict in the Middle East.

The Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry unloaded several hundred cattle from the ship on Friday night at the exporter’s request.

About 16,500 livestock have been packed aboard the MV Bahijah since Jan. 5, when it sailed for the Middle East from Fremantle.

The ship was ordered to abandon its voyage due to Houthi rebel attacks in the Red Sea, and returned to dock at Fremantle Port on Friday.

The animals had remained on the vessel since it returned to Australian waters, sparking fears for their welfare.

West Australian officials are now working with their Commonwealth counterparts and industry to monitor the disembarked animals which will be kept separate from Australian cattle herds.

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Western Australia’s (WA) Chief Vet reported the animals are healthy and in good condition.

Strict biosecurity measures have been implemented as a precaution despite the risk to Australia’s animal health status being considered low, as the animals have not disembarked during their journey.

A decision is yet to be made about the outcome for the animals.

“This unprecedented situation has been complex and every effort has been made to thoroughly address the biosecurity risks to Australia’s important livestock industry,” WA’s Agriculture and Food Minister Jackie Jarvis said.

Meanwhile, the federal government is considering the exporter’s application to re-export the remaining animals on the ship.

If the animals are re-exported they’re likely to be at sea for another month as the MV Bahijah sails around Africa to access Jordan via the Suez Canal and avoid the Middle East conflict zone.

Animal rights groups have reportedly filed legal proceedings in Israel’s Central Region District Court against the nation’s agriculture ministry in a bid to stop the ship from exporting its cargo into Israel.

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