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Welfare groups oppose live exports to Iran
(Friday, 30 May 2014 - ABC News)

Animal welfare groups have criticised moves to restart a livestock export trade with Iran.

Australia hasn't exported sheep to Iran since a boycott following the country's Islamic revolution in the 1970s.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says the resumption of trade will benefit Australian livestock producers and he maintains Australia's ESCAS (Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System) supply chain system will ensure animal welfare.

But RSPCA Australia chief executive Heather Neil says ESCAS doesn't guarantee animals are treated well.

"I think there's enough examples with ESCAS going terribly wrong and the government doing really very little in order to bring exporters into line and to take away their licences, when they've shown time and time again to be getting it wrong."

The RSPCA wants the Federal Government to focus on expanding export markets for processed meats, rather than opening new live export trade.

"I don't think it matters where Australian animals go, but they go through a very long journey, so they have risks on board ship.

"Then putting animals into another country, with another country's laws, and there isn't a good track record of people doing it well.

"It's really setting it up for disaster," Ms Neil said.

Animal rights group Animals Australia labels the push to reopen the live trade with Iran as 'irresponsible'.

"The government is talking about opening a new market when there is no one even policing the old markets," the group said in a statement.

"Once again, we are pushing animals into a country where there are no local laws to protect them from cruelty."

Dr Sue Foster, of lobby group Vets Against Live Exports, says her organisation is concerned about the opening of the trade which will require a long-haul voyage, at times in hot and humid conditions.

"Virtually every voyage that goes to a Middle Eastern summer destination will have some degree of heat stress."

"That's half the year's voyages," Dr Foster said.



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