Two ex-directors of Australian livestock-shipping company Emanuel Exports, Graham Daws and Michael Stanton, pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges on Friday November 15th.
The charges against the pair were brought by Western Australia’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. Footage was released by whistleblowers in April 2018 of thousands of sheep dying of heat stress on the Awassi Express on a voyage in 2017 from Australia to the Middle East. The footage was aired on Australia’s 60 Minutes programme, causing a national scandal.
For religious reasons, many countries in the Middle East say they need to import animals while they are alive, and deny that this entails cruelty to the animals concerned.
The 30-year-old converted container ship has since been renamed the Anna Marra, and is currently in Geelong in Victoria, where it is the focus of animal rights protestors.
In September the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) welcomed the resumption of trade after a winter moratorium. It said that almost half of all revenue generated by live exports is retained on farms, earning producers around A$100m a year and generating nearly 3,500 jobs.
ALEC CEO Mark Harvey-Sutton said that “our trading partners need security and stability. The industry has established strong partnerships with clients, some sourcing Australian sheep for over 40 years. The impact to the industry over the past 18 months has seen uncertainty but with positive change for the industry. Initiatives like the moratorium mean that competitors have entered some of our markets in order to guarantee food security. The positive impact on animal welfare is the net gain, and there is no doubt that we do lead the world in that respect”.