13,000 Animals Are Stranded At Sea Right Now And Nobody Is Talking About It

They have been stranded for over 11 days, and some are starting to die.

Thirteen thousand sheep and cows aboard the Ocean Outback - a ship involved in the live export industry, which sends countless animals thousands of miles every year just to be slaughtered when they arrive at their destinations -hang in limbo. Engine problems have forced the vessel to stay at the port in Henderson, Australia.

After nine days, 12 sheep and two cows have already been reported dead on the Ocean Outback. "And they haven't even left port yet," Emmanuel Giuffre, legal counsel for Voiceless: the animal protection institute, told ABC Rural. He added that the mortality rate was cause for concern. "Every day these animals remain in port they remain in limbo and this compounds the stress and compounds the risks that are inevitable in the live export industry."

But the big live export business seems unconcerned. "I think it's two cattle and about, I haven't seen today's report, and a small number of sheep, which is to be expected," said Otway Livestock Exports managing director Alan Schmidt, about the animals who have died so far.

The ship, originally bound for Israel, is awaiting government approval to change its destination to South Asia. Schmidt said Otway is "comfortable that we have got an outcome for the livestock that will mean that possibly some of the livestock will discharged and some will be exported."

But there is plenty to be uncomfortable about, when it comes to live exports. Recent investigations by Animals Australia showed that animals sent to Vietnam were being sledgehammered to death, and those sent to Israel were fully conscious when their their throats were slit.

It is not yet clear where the animals exported to South Asia will go. "I won't be the exporter if they go to Southeast Asia and I can't comment on who the exporter will be," Schmidt said.

Local animal activists are suspicious of the spokesperson's business-as-usual tone. "Of course, the exporter's spokesman continues to report ... that it's all good on board," wrote the LiveExport - GlobalVoice4AnimalsFacebook page on Thursday. "However, the facts are not changed ... Animals are dying."

The page observes that the ship went beyond 50 km out, which is where Otway reports the ship's location in the waters. The ship was "so far out that, at one point, it seriously looked like it was being taken out of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone, which is 320 km out," the page announced. "No doubt a main reason to go so far out would have been to get rid of the evidence of the deaths."

After this many days stuck at sea, it's hard to imagine the suffering the cows and sheep on board are enduring, steeped in their own filth and feces. Perhaps that's why no one has been saying much of anything about it.

Or perhaps it's because the thriving live export industry is still considered simply everyday business.

Perhaps the scariest part about the 13,000 animals stranded at sea is that this industry exists in the first place.

The government approval for the new plan affecting the 13,000 onboard the vessel will come "within the next few days."

Click here to learn more about live exports - and to do something about it.

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