PETA Australia calls for Israel to stop importing live animals from Down Under

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September 11, 2013 19:15

Israel's import of Australian animals – particularly sheep and cattle – is problematic due to huge amounts of green house gas emissions.

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Animal rights protester, Tel Aviv, April 14, 2013.

animal rights370. (photo credit:Courtesy, Barak Bloch )

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Australia sent a letter to Israeli government officials on Wednesday morning urging them to ban the import of live animals from Australia immediately.

Israel’s import of Australian animals – particularly sheep and cattle – is problematic due to the huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting them, according to the letters from PETA sent to Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz and ministry director-general David Leffler.

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In 2012 alone, Israel imported more than 64,000 sheep and 50,000 cattle from Australia, generating green house gas emissions that amounted to 50,000 tons, the letters say.

“In view of Israel’s efforts to combat climate change and its commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, we are asking you to take a step that will dramatically decrease your greenhouse- gas emissions: Immediately ban the import of live animals from Australia,” the letters request.

Live export of animals is ranked number 39 of the top 50 carbon dioxide emitters in Australia, the organization added. This emissions ranking surpasses those of enormous companies in Australia like Virgin Australia, Conoco, BP Regional, Shell and AGL Energy, the letter explained.

“Animals being forced to stand and lie in their own waste for several weeks should be enough to prompt Israel to get out of the dirty live-imports business,” said PETA Australia director of campaigns Jason Baker. “Add to that the defiling of the atmosphere with thousands of tons of carbon-dioxide and the issue of live imports should have been dead on arrival in Israel.”

The letters, signed by Baker, emphasize that the conditions the sheep and cattle endure during their travels to Israel are very grim, so much so that many collapse or die from dehydration, suffocation, trampling or disease.

In response to the letter, the Environmental Protection Ministry spokesman told The Jerusalem Post that “as long as the Agriculture Ministry – which is first and foremost concerned with farmers – is also responsible for the supervision of animal welfare violations, which victimizes the animals quite often in the agricultural sector, the State of Israel is deluding itself and the animals are paying the price.”

“Regulatory authority for animal welfare should be in only one place – the Environmental Protection Ministry,” the spokesman said.

Stressing that the ministry in the past asked the Treasury make the import of live sheep and cattle more difficult, due to the abuse and pollution associated with their transport, the spokesman said that the ministry’s request was rejected.

When approached by the Post, the Agriculture Ministry spokeswoman said that the office could not provide a reaction on greenhouse gas emission issues, because air pollution falls under the jurisdiction of the Environment Ministry.

Regarding the transport of the animals, the Agriculture Ministry spokeswoman explained that according to animal welfare regulations, the transport must be carried out in the presence of a driver trained by the ministry in order to minimize suffering and maintain welfare. When most shipments arrive to Israel, Agriculture Ministry inspectors and veterinarians are present in order to oversee the disembarkation process, the spokeswoman added. In addition, every ship arriving in Israel must have a veterinarian onboard, and the ship is obligated to report any violations.

“It is important to note that the Agriculture Ministry conducts extensive operations in all matters related to animal welfare,” the spokeswoman stressed.

Such operations include minimization of animal suffering, regulations for livestock transportation, proper comforts during transport and prohibitions against the use of force or an electric shocker except in extreme situations, the ministry said.

Also on Wednesday, The West Australian daily newspaper reported that a ship containing 5,240 cattle bound for Israel was forced to return to the Fremantle port due to mechanical problems. Israel is the Western Australia province’s most valuable customer for live cattle in 2012- 13, with exports climbing to 41 million Australian dollars, the newspaper said.

The Israeli organization Anonymous for Animal Rights, which recently led an investigation with Channel 10 on the abuse of calves and lambs disembarking from ships, urged both Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz and Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir to take action against the import of live animals.

“The data on greenhouse gas emissions from transports of live animals should concern us all,” a statement from Anonymous said. “We all pay the environmental costs of the meat industry, but the highest price is being paid by the animals, who are led on turbulent ships for a journey lasting several weeks. Many of them do not survive the journey.”

In the crowded and dirty conditions, many of the animals get sick and are thrown to sea, and even after the healthy ones arrive to Israel, they have recently faced beatings and other abuses, according to the activist group.

“It is absurd to ship animals from the other end of the world in order to fatten and slaughter them in Israel, only with narrow interests from the Australian meat industry,” the Anonymous statement said. “We, as consumers, can choose not to pay for this abuse and to boycott the meat industry.”

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