THE $2 billion livestock export industry has welcomed a formal review of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL).
ASEL governs the handling of animals in Australia’s livestock export supply chain from selection on-farm through pre-export preparation, quarantine and transport to the point of discharge in the importing country.
Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council chief executive officer Simon Westaway said the review process would ultimately provide recommendations to the Department of Agriculture as part of a process which ALEC believes will provide outcome-based standards, backed by sound scientific evidence.
“ALEC has previously called for a formal review of ASEL and we endorse the approach being undertaken,” Mr Westaway said.
The review’s technical advisory committee will comprise an independent chair, two animal health and welfare experts, a person with an expert knowledge of the livestock export industry, and a regulatory expert. The committee will be supported by an ASEL reference group, comprising representative bodies with a direct interest in the livestock export industry, including animal welfare organisations, the production sector and veterinary profession.
ALEC has encouraged this review of our $2 billion industry because livestock exporters wants ASEL to remain relevant.
“ALEC has encouraged this review of our $2 billion industry because livestock exporters wants ASEL to remain relevant, which in turn promotes a sustainable and growing livestock export trade,” Mr Westaway said.
“Our industry knows the importance of incorporating the latest evidence-based science and new technology into the high standards governing our trade, to ensure the regulatory framework governing the live trade is up-to-date and aligned with world’s best livestock welfare practices.”
ALEC director and veterinarian Dr Tony Brightling said Australia continued to play a world-leading role in the global livestock export trade.
“Australia is the global leader in livestock welfare practices and the current ASEL standards are recognised as an international gold standard,” Dr Brightling said.
“However, livestock export is a dynamic industry. As such, it’s important to ensure ASEL is reviewed and updated to incorporate new technology and research findings, so as to genuinely reflect and meet community expectations of Australian industry operating at international best-practice standards.”
Compliance with ASEL is mandated by the Australian Government. A May 2017 report released by the Australian Farm Institute confirmed that mortality rates during ocean transport have significantly declined over time through better management and ship design, to the extent that losses are now comparable with or below normal farm rates.
“Best practice is an ongoing process,” Dr Brightling said. “We need to ensure new technology and research findings that enhance animal welfare are promptly adopted as standard operating procedures, and that the standards are consistent with regulatory best practice.”