Bahijah livestock carrier saga ends after six weeks and 81 animal deaths

Bahijah livestock carrier saga ends after six weeks and 81 animal deaths

After nearly six weeks at sea, the livestock from the
Bahijah carrier has been discharged from the vessel and relocated by truck.

Some 16,000 sheep and cattle that were ordered back from the Red Sea due to the possibility of Houthi attacks, were finally unloaded in Freemantle port in Western Australia.

The unloading was supposed to begin over the previous weekend. Geoff Pearson, head of livestock at farm group WAFarmers, said last week that the vessel could not start disembarking the animals any earlier due to another livestock carrier being loaded in Fremantle. According to Australian law, the livestock must be moved into quarantine after disembarking.

Unloading of the livestock started a few days later than it was predicted. Discharging of the animals started on Monday, February 12, 2024. They were taken by truck from Fremantle Port to “appropriate premises” in Western Australia. According to the most recent update from Australia’s Department of Agriculture, all animals from the livestock carrier have now been discharged.

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Since there were several media reports regarding animal deaths, the Department stated that a total of 81 animals died since departure from Fremantle on January 5. While on board, four cattle or 0.18% and 64 sheep or 0.45% died while seven cattle and six sheep died on land. The regulator stated that the next steps for the livestock were a commercial decision for the exporter.

The Israeli-based exporter Bassem Dabbah Shipping diverted from its route on January 16. The ship was ordered to immediately return to Australia citing biosecurity risks and the welfare of the livestock. Since the return, the vessel has been stranded off Perth for weeks except when it berthed in port to restock supplies and fodder.

The exporter did submit a plan to re-export the animals without unloading them back to the Middle East via the Cape of Good Hope, a 33-day route around Africa to evade the Houthis. The plan was not approved by the Department of Agriculture as the exporter did not ensure that the arrangements for the transport of the livestock to their final overseas destination were “appropriate to ensure their health and welfare.”

During this period, the livestock vessel Jawan left Australia for the Red Sea port of Aqaba – regardless of the Houthi risks – and is set to arrive there on February 19. The vessel carrying 60,000 animals is currently entering the Gulf of Aden, near the location where Houthis shot a bulk carrier several days ago.

Bahijah livestock carrier saga ends after six weeks and 81 animal deaths

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