Australia to phase out live exports of sheep


Australia to phase out live exports of sheep

13 May 2024
Animals International
A five year phase out plan and $107m support package has been promised by the Australian government, meaning live exports of sheep will end on 1 May 2028.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt made the announcement on 11 May, noting that legislation will be introduced in this term of the Australian Parliament to end the trade in law.

The decision was taken after years of campaigning from animal welfare organisations, with polls revealing that the majority of Australian citizens want to see an end to the cruel trade. 

The live sheep export industry has shown time and again that they are unable to meet the community’s expectations.

Murray Watt, Australian Agriculture Minister

Live export has also been in a long-term economic decline, and now accounts for only 0.1% of Australia’s agricultural exports. 

This has directly corresponded with an increase in the trade of meat products, with trade in chilled sheep meat now 58 times the value of the live sheep export trade. Sales of chilled Australian sheep meat to the Middle East alone now represent $632 million, compared to only $77 million of profits from the entire live sheep export trade.

Decades of investigations have confirmed the stressful, dirty and overcrowded conditions that sheep are subjected to during long sea journeys from Australia. Heat stress can be fatal for animals aboard transport vessels, as tragically proven during the 2017 Awassi Express disaster where around 2,400 sheep died from heat stress whilst travelling between Australia and the Middle East. 

While of course we wish it was sooner, we also recognise and respect the responsibility of the Government to consider all who are impacted by this historic decision… Considering the decades of dedicated effort and advocacy, it is understandable that some doubted whether this trade would end in their lifetime. Now we know differently.

Animals International