For the first time ever, U.S. animal rights activists are staging a protest against Australia’s live export trade. The organizer, Loretta Smalls, says it’s “a show of solidarity with thousands of our Australian brothers and sisters who are fighting to ban the horrific practice.” The protest will take place at the Australian consulate in Los Angeles on April 15th.
Each year, Australia ships millions of live sheep, cattle and goats to countries in the Middle East and Asia where they are slaughtered for meat. Footage taken during more than 30 investigations conducted by Animals Australia demonstrates that many of the animals who are exported endure “routine abuse” and “brutal slaughter” in countries that have few, if any, protections in place for animals. In addition, millions of animals have died on the ships during the treacherous overseas journeys.
For the Australian activists, the U.S. protest can’t come soon enough. “We need all the international support that we can get,” said Sue Clarke, an activist in Brisbane, Australia. “In spite of growing public demand to end live exports, our government is working to expand them.” In fact, Australia is finalizing plans to ship an estimated one million cattle to China each year. If the $1 billion deal is signed, the number of cattle exported would double from its current levels.
As the government works to increase the number of animals exported, it is also reducing the amount of oversight, which, according to Australian activists, is already wholly inadequate. Starting on April 1st, the Department of Agriculture will decrease by 30% the number of audits of unloading docks, feedlots, slaughterhouses and other live export facilities.
Protests against the live export trade across Australia attract hundreds of people, but the government is unmoved by the public backlash and the graphic videos that have triggered it. In fact, Australia’s Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce stated in late January that a review of the government’s oversight program “demonstrates that Australian livestock exported overseas are treated humanely in almost every instance.”
Of all of the countries in Asia and the Middle East that receive live exports from Australia, only Israel has a community of local activists who are working to stop them. According to the Israeli group Against Live Transports, about 200,000 sheep and cattle are shipped each year from Australia to Israel. The entire trip from the feedlots in Australia to the slaughterhouses in Israel is treacherous for the animals, but the activists call particular attention to the one leg of the journey for which they have the most documentation – the unloading of the animals. On April 8th, dozens of Israeli activists are traveling to the port city of Eilat to protest the arrival of a transport ship from Australia.
The U.S. and Israel are not the only countries to protest Australia’s live export trade. Activists in the Czech Republic, Greece and Egypt have also demonstrated in solidarity with Australian activists — while activists in England battle their own country’s live animal exports.
Filed under: Food
Tagged with: 269Life, Animals Australia, Australia, Czech Republic, Israel, live exports, Los Angeles