Thousands of livestock stuck on ship in WA

There are calls for the livestock ship to be returned to Australia, amid growing concerns about their health during heatwave conditions in WA.
Livestock ship WA

Concern is growing for thousands of livestock onboard an export ship off the WA coast.

Sheep and cattle were boarded onto the MV Bahijah on 5 January, bound for the Middle East. However, the ship was redirected to avoid ongoing regional conflict in the Red Sea.

It’s now spent 27 days at sea. There is one veterinarian onboard.

Animal welfare groups are calling for the livestock to be returned to Australia, amid growing concerns about their health during heatwave conditions in WA.


5 January: The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) permitted MV Bahijah to export livestock to the Middle East.

19 January: DAFF announced the ship had diverted its path due to Houthi rebel attacks in the Red Sea.

20 January: DAFF directed the livestock ship to return to WA. However, the animals may pose a biosecurity threat after weeks at sea.


The MV Bahijah is currently anchored south of Fremantle, WA.

A heatwave warning is in place until 2 February with temperatures above 30°C forecast in coming days.

RSPCA WA CEO Ben Cave said the animals “have already spent nearly a month on rolling seas in cramped conditions, standing in their own waste.”

Livestock ship in WA

DAFF said the ship’s onboard vet has reported no “significant health, welfare or environmental concerns”.

Two independent vets were also sent to inspect the conditions. DAFF said it will review their findings and “consider next steps”.

The vessel’s exporter has applied for permission to return some of the animals to Australia before re-exporting the remaining livestock.


RSPCA WA has called for the ship to return to shore and for all the livestock to be unloaded.

Cave said: “These Australian animals were loaded in Australia and haven’t left the ship since.”

DAFF said the animals are “subject to strict biosecurity controls”, and protecting their welfare and Australia’s biosecurity are its “top priorities”.

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