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Australia restricts live sheep exports after shocking treatment

AFP  |  Sydney 

Horrific footage of dead and dying on ships bound for the has prompted sweeping reforms to Australia's live trade, but stopped short of an outright ban today.

Video images taken last year showed heat-stricken crammed together in small, stifling pens and covered in excrement, shocking the Australian public when it was released by animal activists in April.

on Thursday labelled the footage "disgraceful" but resisted calls to outlaw live exports entirely after a government review.

"There will be no ban to the live trade in the Middle Eastern summer," he told reporters.

"However, as a result of this review, we will be making serious and meaningful change to the industry." Exporters will now be required to increase cargo space for sheep by up to 39 per cent, varying according to seasonal temperature.

Independent observers will also have to travel on all ships carrying cattle or sheep.

Companies in breach of the new rules could face fines of 4.2 million Australian dollars (USD 3.1 million) and directors jailed for up to 10 years.

activists accused the government of "double standards" on animal protection, calling for a ban on live exports.

"If you leave a dog in a (in Australia) you are prosecuted and you potentially go to jail," said from Animals Australia, the group that released the shocking video.

"If you put tens-of-thousands of live sheep on a vessel that turns into an oven it's called a business," she added to

White said the government was putting industry ahead of science in continuing with the live trade, a sector she branded an "ethical abomination".

But a key agricultural lobby group welcomed the review's recommendations as a "crucial first step" toward reforming the industry.

"We support the future of the trade but there absolutely must be meaningful change," said.

"Change that increases oversight and transparency, facilitates continuous improvement and most importantly, upholds to the standard expected by all reasonable Australians." Australia's live animal trade, worth more than 800 million dollars annually, has been under scrutiny in recent years after footage shot at offshore abattoirs showed cattle being mistreated.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 17 2018. 12:30 IST