RSPCA 'disgusted' as 67,000 sheep stranded

The RSPCA says it is furious 67,000 sheep have been left stranded on a cargo ship that has broken down off Adelaide for a week.

The Al Messilah left Adelaide last Tuesday, bound for Kuwait in the Middle East with the sheep on board.

Shortly after it left the ship came into engine troubles and had to return to the Port last weekend.

The sheep remain onboard the carrier, while the ship is being repaired.

Chief Executive Officer of Flinders Ports, said feed was being taken out to the sheep while the boat was in the Port.

"Obviously being in the port for an extra week has meant that they would need more feed cargo on board," he said.

"They're doing the repairs at the moment and we would hope they'd be done in the next couple of days so they can leave."

The Al Messilah at Outer Harbour today.
The Al Messilah at Outer Harbour today.

The RSPCA claims the ship involved is one of the oldest vessels in the live export fleet.

"This incident highlights the inherent risks in transporting animals over such vast distances by sea, risks that the industry has never been able to address," RSPCA CEO Heather Neil said.

"The RSPCA's immediate concern is for the animals on board and has requested access to ensure the welfare of the sheep is protected."

"The journey to the Middle East was already going to take up to 20 days and that these sheep have already been in limbo for seven days is completely unacceptable," she said.

"This is exactly the same number of sheep that were on the Cormo Express," Ms Neil said, "Whether it's trade disputes or mechanical breakdowns, animals in this trade are always at risk."

Greens NSW Senator, Lee Rhiannon said the stranded sheep is a reminder of the perils of live exports.

"The welfare of the thousands of sheep contained on the Al Messilah, a former car transporter built in 1980, has been compromised before they even reach the abattoirs of the Middle East," Senator Rhiannon said.

"The spotlight is now on this vessel and the welfare of the sheep on board because it struck trouble near an Australian port."

"If the ship had faced problems way out at sea, would we have ever known?" she said.

Late today, the RSPCA were refused access when they attempted to board the boat.

The Federal Government suspended live trade exports two months ago, after concerns over the welfare of animals exported to Indonesia.

Only six days ago, live exports to Indonesia resumed, with the first shipment of cattle leaving the Port of Darwin.

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