Taking effect from June 2019, the moratorium means that no shipments of Australian sheep will depart from any Australian port for the Middle East during the highest heat stress risk period of the northern summer.
A series of improvements have been implemented over the past six months by the Australian industry, following leaked footage emerging of sheep being mistreated during a transit to the Middle East in the summer, resulting in thousands of livestock deaths.
ALEC chairman Simon Crean said the moratorium would provide certainty to sheep producers who supply the trade.
“This is about maintaining and growing a strong, viable nine-month-a-year live sheep trade and, more broadly, securing the future of Australia’s livestock export industry,” said Crean.
As well as the sheep moratorium, sheep exporters have also agreed to initiate a program of on-board monitoring, to be designed and developed by LiveCorp. ALEC added that the program would improve transparency and communication with producers with regards to on-board conditions and the performance of shipments.
LiveCorp is a non-profit organisation that is dedicated to improving performance in animal health and welfare, supply chain efficiency and market access.
“Potential solutions being developed by the export research and development corporation, Livecorp, include improved detection and avoidance of temperature extremes, and on-board dehumidification,” added Crean.
According to ALEC, more than three-quarters of Middle East sheep voyages in the past seven years have recorded mortalities of less than 1%, but the figure rises to 1.5% during the June to August northern summer period.
From 2010 to 2017, Australia’s live sheep exports to the Middle East contributed AU$2.06 billion to the Australian economy, exporting 16.6 million sheep over 258 voyages.