Businesses involved in exporting live sheep by sea to the Middle East will be subject to new requirements between 1 May and 31 October each year.

The changes arise to mangage sheep exposure to heat stress during the Northern Hemisphere summer and as part of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s (Department) broader management of live animal export welfare two years after 60 Minutes aired footage of sheep exposed to dire export conditions on ships.

Under the new measures, holders of sheep export licences will see the following prohibitions and conditions relating to the export of sheep from Australia by sea:

  • prohition on exporting sheep to Oman where the vessel leaves an Australian port between 8 May and 14 September each year
  • prohition on exporting sheep to Qatar where the vessel leaves an Australian port between 22 May and 22 September each year
  • prohition on exporting sheep where the the vessel will go through waters in the Arabian Sea, or the Red Sea, north of latitude 11°N, and where the vessel leaves an Australian port between 1 June and 14 September each year
  • condition that vessels cannot have more than two ports of discharge (for sheep or other livestock) where they enter the the Arabian Sea, or the Red Sea, north of latitude 11°N after 1 June or the vessel leaves an Australian port between 15 and 30 September each year and enters those waters during its voyage
  • condition that sheep cannot be exported where they will go through the Arabian Sea, or the Red Sea, north of latitude 11°N between 1 May and 31 October each year, unless certain conditions of the sheep and their pens are satisfied (e.g. each sheep’s wool must be 25 mm or less).

Licence holders can apply for exemptions to the above conditions and prohibitions, although the Secretary of the Department has broad discretion as to whether to grant it and the conditions of any exemption granted.

The Department has foreshadowed that arrangements for September and October will be determined at a later date, after the independent panel of animal welfare, heat stress, and animal science has issued its final report in the Heat Stress Risk Assessmnet Review.