August 22, 2018 / 4:31 AM / a month ago

Australia cancels livestock shipper's live export license after sheep deaths at sea

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s government has canceled the live export license of the country’s biggest livestock shipper, Emanuel Exports Pty Ltd, after investigating the death of thousands of sheep during a shipment to the Middle East last year.

In a statement issued late on Tuesday, the government didn’t specify why the license had been revoked, but said the move followed “a thorough investigation and show cause process”.

Perth-based Emanuel Exports, which has shipped sheep to the Middle East for 55 years, said in a statement it would appeal the decision.

Footage that emerged earlier this year of the distressed sheep, which died from heat stress on the journey, fueled calls for an outright ban on the A$250 million ($180 million) industry.

Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of livestock. Though the bulk of its meat exports are processed, markets such as the Middle East and Indonesia prefer to buy live animals.

Australia said in May it would require ships carrying live cattle and sheep exports to reduce the number of sheep they carried during the northern hemisphere summer and have an independent observer to ensure welfare standards.

In its statement, Emanuel Exports Director Nicholas Daws said, “We have a proud history of complying with government regulation over many years...we will appeal this notice as a matter of priority.”

Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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