SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s government has cancelled the live export licence of the country’s biggest livestock shipper, Emanuel Exports Pty Ltd, after investigating the death of thousands of sheep during a shipment to the Middle East last year.
In a statement issued late on Tuesday, the government didn’t specify why the licence had been revoked, but said the move followed “a thorough investigation and show cause process”.
Perth-based Emanuel Exports, which has shipped sheep to the Middle East for 55 years, said in a statement it would appeal the decision.
Footage that emerged earlier this year of the distressed sheep, which died from heat stress on the journey, fuelled calls for an outright ban on the A$250 million (143.42 million pounds)industry.
Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of livestock. Though the bulk of its meat exports are processed, markets such as the Middle East and Indonesia prefer to buy live animals.
Australia said in May it would require ships carrying live cattle and sheep exports to reduce the number of sheep they carried during the northern hemisphere summer and have an independent observer to ensure welfare standards.
In its statement, Emanuel Exports Director Nicholas Daws said, “We have a proud history of complying with government regulation over many years...we will appeal this notice as a matter of priority.”
($1 = 1.3669 Australian dollars)
Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell