The welfare of live export has again come under criticism as the West Australian government negotiates with Vietnam the delivery of 7000 livestock intended for Israel and now stranded off the WA coast.
The load is the fourth Australian live export vessel in less than 12 months to break down during its voyage.
Engine trouble has stopped the Wellard Rural Exports vessel Ocean Outback near Rottnest Island off Perth for the past week.
Welfare agency Animals Australia has called for the animals to be unloaded as the WA government tries to negotiate a new destination for the cattle to be transported on the vessel that has only one engine.
Animals Australia spokeswoman Lisa Chalk said the WA Department of Agriculture and Food was on Thursday afternoon still negotiating with Vietnam or some “other country in south-east Asia” to transport the cattle.
“This situation is obviously very concerning,” Ms Chalks said.
“Every added day at sea increases mortality.
“These animals should be unloaded. They have already been on board for nearly a week and given they haven’t even left Australia we have an opportunity to turn this potentially dire situation around.
“The notorious Pearl of Para ran into mechanical issues twice last year and the Wellard ship, the Ocean Drover, experienced engine problems in January this year which prolonged the journey to Israel/Jordan and led to a higher than normal mortalities.
“The last time the department allowed a ship with known mechanical issues to continue on its journey, the problems persisted, the vessel ran short of feed which exacerbated the situation and it led to a high mortality incident.
“Statistics show that every additional day at sea increases the risk of mortality so to allow a vessel with known mechanical problems to leave Australia would not only be reckless but it would be a blatant breach of our duty of care to these animals.”
The journey to Israel is up to three weeks. It takes about two weeks to get to Asia.
Ms Chalk said the additional time stranded off shore would mean the cattle had spent the same amount of time in transit.
Fairfax Media has contacted the department for comment.