5 April 2022
To advise stakeholders that on 5 April 2022, as an interim measure, amendments were made to the arrangements for the export of live sheep to or through the Middle East for the start of the 2022 Northern Hemisphere summer (May and June).
The changes are based on updated climatology data, which indicated an increased heat stress risk for voyages to some Persian Gulf destinations in late May and a reduced risk for voyages to or through the Red Sea during early June.
- As an interim measure to continue to manage heat stress risks and to provide sufficient time for industry to prepare for the 2022 Northern Hemisphere summer, the Export Control (Animals) Rules 2021 (Animals Rules) were amended on 5 April 2022. These amendments affect arrangements for May and June starting this year.
- The key changes are that:
- Sheep must not be exported to Persian Gulf destinations (including Qatar but not Oman and Kuwait) by sea on a vessel that leaves an Australian port from 22 May to 31 May unless additional conditions to mitigate heat stress risks are met, and
- Sheep can now be exported to or through the Red Sea from 1 to 14 June.
- The additional conditions for the 10 day period (22 May to 31 May) for Persian Gulf destinations other than Kuwait and Oman, include measures to:
- improve sheep heat tolerance such as shorter fleece length and maximum sheep weight limits (for example, 56kgs for Merinos)
- decrease deck wet bulb temperatures, such as minimum pen air turnover rates and increased pen space allowance.
- These new conditions do not apply to sheep exported to Kuwait, which has a notably cooler microclimate, or to Oman, where exports are prohibited during this period due to the high temperatures and humidity and therefore increased heat stress risks.
- The department is continuing to consider the feedback received, available science and evidence and conducting further analyses.
- Arrangements for the Northern Hemisphere summer will be finalised when the review is completed. This is planned for the end of June 2022.
- The department also plans to contribute funding and work with LiveCorp and industry on new research during permitted periods in the Northern Hemisphere Summer. The research will further ascertain and align sheep physiological and behavioural changes observed during a voyage with other data.
- The department is reviewing arrangements for sheep exported by sea to, or through, the Middle East during the Northern Hemisphere summer (NHS) (1 May to 31 October).
- When the department implemented new regulatory settings for live sheep exports to or through the Middle East by sea during the Northern Hemisphere summer in 2020, it undertook to review the settings after 2 Northern Hemisphere summer periods (at the end of the 2021 Northern Hemisphere summer).
- On 17 December 2021 the department released a draft report for public consultation. It received over 700 submissions when consultation closed on 28 January 2022.
- The department undertook additional stakeholder engagement due to high levels of interest, the complexity of the issues, the important implications for animal welfare and the practical requirements of any change to export processes.
Livestock Welfare Analysis and Reviews Section
Animal Welfare Branch
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
Assistant Director/Contact officer
Phone: 02 6272 3412