Red Sea Attacks Leave Shipload Of Over 16,000 Livestock Stranded At Sea And Facing Heatwave At Port

(Public/Screenshot/YouTube/Associated Press)

John Oyewale Contributor
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A Middle East-bound shipload of over 16,000 livestock was stranded at sea for almost a month due to security issues in the Red Sea and faced heatwave conditions upon docking Thursday in western Australia, according to reports.

The MV Bahijah, carrying about 16,500 sheep and cattle for Israel-based export company Bassem Dabbah, sailed Jan. 5 from the western Australian port of Fremantle under a Marshall Islands flag but turned around and headed back to port due to ongoing Houthi rebel attacks in the Red Sea, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

The vessel reportedly docked Thursday, having sat off the coast of Fremantle for four days. The prevailing heatwave conditions added to concerns about the animals. Two veterinarians who inspected the livestock Wednesday found no significant health issues, according to live updates provided by Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. (RELATED: Red Sea Shipping Has Sunk Amid Missile Attacks. Here’s What That Means For Americans’ Wallets)

Concerns also arose among the public over Australia‘s biosecurity and the health and welfare of the livestock, the department’s updates indicated.

“[The veterinarians’ inspection] provides additional confidence that the livestock are in good condition and have appropriate care and supervision. It also confirmed that there were no signs of exotic disease present in the livestock on board the vessel,” Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Beth Cookson said, according to the updates.

“There should be no doubt that Australia’s biosecurity and the health and welfare of the livestock onboard are our highest priorities,” the department’s Secretary Adam Fennessy said Friday.

The department agreed late Friday that several hundred healthy cattle could be unloaded from the vessel, while it continued to assess the exporter’s application to re-export the livestock, the updates noted.

Re-export would present a unique challenge, as the animals could be shipped over another month to the Suez Canal ports via a longer route around Southern Africa to avoid the troubled Red Sea, AP noted. The alternative route spans thousands more miles and would take a week longer than the original route.

“We are doing everything we can to resolve the situation and we will continue to release information and respond to inquiries until that time,” Fennessy said, according to the updates.