UPDATE 3 June 2020
Twenty crew members from the Al Kuwait have now tested positive for COVID-19.
27 May 2020
After six crew members aboard the Al Kuwait – a live-export vessel docked at Fremantle – tested positive for COVID-19, PETA has written to Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan urging him to push for a live-export ban.
The Al Kuwait arrived in Fremantle from the United Arab Emirates on Friday, 22 May, despite pre-arrival reports that crew members had elevated temperatures.
While the rest of Australia went into lockdown to ensure the public’s safety, live-export companies have continued to send ships back and forth between our shores and the Middle East, putting the lives of thousands of humans and animals at risk.
This is yet another example of the risks of prioritising profit over lives.
Numerous investigations have revealed rampant cruelty aboard live-export ships. During the weeks-long voyages in cramped, sweltering-hot conditions, many animals die from dehydration, starvation, or disease, while others may be trampled to death or drown in their own waste.
Of course, the suffering doesn’t end when the boats dock in the Middle East – weak animal protection laws there mean they’re subjected to abuse and slaughter methods that would be illegal here.
And evidently, animals aren’t the only ones who suffer in the live-export trade. Crew members aboard these ships are exposed to dangerous levels of ammonia, carbon dioxide, and highly flammable methane – from the animals and their waste. In 2016, veterinarian Dr Lynn Simpson spoke out about human rights concerns within the industry, saying, “What shocked me most [about live export] was the disregard for humanity and the poor conditions that many seafarers are forced to endure.”
Then there’s the fact that animals also carry zoonotic diseases. We understand that the Al Kuwait outbreak wasn’t caused by infected animals, but just as abattoirs and other animal-exploiting facilities are potential breeding grounds for the next pandemic, so, too, are live-export ships – and the risks only increase with worldwide travel.
Season after season, the live-export industry causes humans and animals to suffer. The outbreak aboard the Al Kuwait is yet another reason why this trade must end.
We hope the Western Australian government will join us in calling on the federal government to end this ghastly industry. You can join us, too: click the button below to send a message to federal Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud.