Bahijah, with over 16,000 animals onboard, finally berthed at Fremantle port after being stuck off the coast of Perth for several days.
The 2010-built, 7,900 dwt livestock carrier with around 14,000 sheep and 2,500 cattle, registered to Israeli-based Bassem Dabbah Shipping, had been on the water since January 5 when it left Australia. On January 16 it diverted from its route due to safety concerns from Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea.
The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry ordered the vessel to immediately return to Australia due to biosecurity risks and livestock welfare.
The vessel was moored off the coast of Perth for several days before berthing in Fremantle port on early Thursday morning local time. The exporter did present a plan to resolve the issue to the Department of Agriculture. It entails offloading some of the animals in Western Australia and sending the rest back to the Middle East along the longer 33-day route along Africa. The vessel is currently being replenished with supplies and no animals are currently being unloaded.
Along with the exporter’s registered veterinarian, the department sent two independent veterinarians on the vessel on January 31 to make sure the livestock onboard was in good health.
“The report from those veterinarians indicates no signs of significant health, welfare or environmental condition concerns with the livestock on board, consistent with all reports received to date,” the Department of Agriculture said in an update.
“Contrary to some public reports, no livestock are required to be offloaded for health reasons,” the department added.
“[The] livestock are in good condition and have appropriate care and supervision. It [was] also confirmed that there were no signs of exotic disease present in the livestock on board the vessel,” said Australia’s chief veterinary officer Beth Cookson.
The department stated in its update that the exporter’s plan to re-export the livestock is still under assessment by the Australian authorities.
The current heatwave in Australia is causing additional problems and poses a potential danger to the animals aboard. The forecast for today is predicting a high of 41 degrees Celsius and 37 degrees Celsius for Friday. It is set to drop off to around or just below 30 over the weekend and at the start of next week, before hitting 36 next Wednesday.
In an article written for Splash, Dr Lynn Thompson discussed how this 13-day routine but risky voyage turned into a potentially two-month-long captive negotiation debacle.