THE difficulty in sourcing veterinarians and independent observers to man livestock voyages out of Australia has come precariously close to keeping ships in port.
Vets and Australian stockmen have been stranded for months in ports where animals have been discharged, unable to secure a seat on the extremely limited air flights back into Australia. Some have been stuck at sea on ships as they attempt to find a passage home.
Not only has the situation taken a number of potential staff out of an already very small pool but those who have had that prolonged experience are, understandably, not keen to put their hand up again.
The return to Fremantle this week of big sheep transporter the Al Kuwait saw stockmen and vets from three different vessels finally able to return to Australia after being gone since March.
The Al Kuwait is due to leave again today with 52,500 sheep and 240 cattle bound for Kuwait and exporters Rural Export and Trading WA said securing a vet came down to the last minute.
Exporters are now asking vets to do multiple voyages in a row, saying under current quarantine requirements the only way it can work is for staff to stay on vessels for as long as possible.
Australian Livestock Exporters' Council chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton said the challenges around moving people involved in the live-ex supply chain under current quarantine and lockdown measures existed both domestically and internationally.
"It has certainly become a far more extensive commitment for vets and it's going to continue as long as movement restrictions are in place," he said.
"It really is testament to the industry they have been able to find solutions and fulfill obligations during these challenging times."
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