IN THE NEWS: On JUL 11, 2018
Loading could begin on a divisive Emanuel Exports-operated live sheep export ship within days, despite the Federal Department of Agriculture saying it has not issued a permit for the ship to sail.
Animal welfare activists are promising legal action to try to block the voyage to the Middle East even if a permit is issued.
They say the department's decision to consider an application from a wholly-owned subsidiary of Emanuel makes a mockery of live export rules.
Emanuel Exports wants to use an export licence issued to subsidiary EMS Rural Exports to move the sheep after its own licence was suspended last month amid three separate investigations of its live export business.
The decision came after talks with another live exporter over a deal to take the sheep broke down, and after Emanuel founder Graham Daws quit the boards of his own companies.
The suspension of Emanuel's licence left 60,000 sheep in limbo. An Emanuel-operated vessel, the Al Shuwaikh, berthed in Fremantle yesterday and it is understood at least 45,000 sheep are likely to travel on the ship to the Middle East. The department confirmed it had received an application for an export permit yesterday but said it would be assessed on its merits.
But the Al Shuwaikh began taking on feed yesterday, as Maritime Safety officials began their routine inspection of the vessel. It is understood loading of the sheep could start as soon as the ship is cleared for use, even if separate permits from the department were not in place.
Emanuel's move has sparked new criticism of the industry.
Liberal MP Sussan Ley, who has moved a private member's Bill to effectively ban the live sheep trade, said using EMS as a vehicle for the shipment smacked of "cheating the system". Shadow agriculture minister Joel Fitzgibbon said the application was "kicking sand into the Government's face".