WA storm delays virus sheep ship departure

The Al Kuwait livestock ship will soon leave WA with 35,00 sheep on board

Stormy weather in Perth will further delay a shipment of about 35,000 sheep bound for the Middle East during the northern summer live export ban after COVID-19 caused the first setback.

The Al Kuwait livestock vessel, which has been docked in Fremantle since May 22, was initially held up after more than 20 crew contracted coronavirus following a voyage from the United Arab Emirates.

The vessel could not leave WA until after the export ban began on June 1 and required an exemption, with strict conditions forcing the number of sheep onboard to be slashed from the originally planned 56,000.

A Rural Export and Trading WA spokesman told AAP the ship would finally leave the port later on Wednesday and anchor off the coast until the stormy weather passed, then continue on to the Middle East.

On Tuesday, Animals Australia lost its Federal Court bid to stop the export from happening, while Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie had a similar federal parliament motion rejected.

The export ban was introduced this year, prompted by thousands of sheep dying from heat stress aboard the Awassi Express in 2017.

Only one active case of COVID-19 remains in WA and the person is in hotel quarantine.

WA's tally stands at 602 cases.