Final ASEL report falls short on animal welfare

RSPCA Australia has welcomed the final report into the review of Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) but says it falls short on key animal welfare issues.

While the RSPCA acknowledges some improvements in areas such as additional on-board reporting requirements and a lower rate for notifiable mortality events, the proposed standards fail to reflect the scientific evidence on stocking density and its relationship to good animal welfare.

Stocking density reductions of between 20 and 28 per cent for sheep, depending upon the time of year, are proposed but there is next to no change for cattle densities from the current ASEL standards.

RSPCA Senior Policy Officer Dr Jed Goodfellow described the final report as a missed opportunity.

“There are many small changes proposed in the Committee’s 49 recommendations but they are really just tinkering around the edges,

“The final report falls short on the big issues that will make a real difference to animal welfare, like stocking densities that actually allow the animals to lie down at the same time over these 3-4 week long journeys, rather than expecting them to ‘time-share’ the floor space,

“The densities proposed will still force animals to lie on top of one another, and in most cases without any form of bedding other than their own faeces,

“We are particularly disappointed to see that the final report has backtracked on stocking density reductions proposed for cattle,

“The cattle industry should be using this as an opportunity to gets its house in order, not pushing back against these very modest improvements,

“If the current debacle with the live sheep trade doesn’t serve as a wakeup call for them, nothing will,

“It just goes to show, yet again, that animal welfare and live exports are fundamentally incompatible, and that live exports should be replaced with an expanded trade in meat exports,” said Dr Goodfellow.