No signs of exotic disease have been found among the 16,500 sheep and cattle aboard a live export vessel forced back to Australia due to rising tensions in the Middle East, according to Australia's chief veterinary officer Beth Cookson.
The MV Bahihaj finally berthed in Fremantle Port early on Thursday morning after 25 days at sea to take on fresh feed and other supplies.
While there are currently no plans to unload animals, Dr Cookson said a preliminary report by two independent veterinarians had found "no significant animal health or welfare issues" on board the ship.
"That provides additional confidence that the livestock are in good condition and have appropriate care and supervision," she said.
"It also confirmed that there were no signs of exotic disease present in the livestock on board the vessel."
The independent welfare assessment counters social media and media reports driven by animal activist groups there were thousands of sick animals on board.
A Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry spokesperson also said that "contrary to public reports, no livestock are required to be offloaded for health reasons."
Anti-live export activists, who held a protest at Fremantle Port on Tuesday, have seized on the situation and local heatwave conditions as justification for the federal government's looming shutdown of the live sheep export by sea industry.
The ship, owned by Israeli company Basem Dabbah, had been anchored about 10 kilometres off the WA coast since Monday afternoon after leaving Fremantle destined for Jordan on January 5.
It was ordered to abandon its voyage by the federal government due to the risk of violence by Houtis rebels targeting commercial vessels in the Red Sea channel.
DAFF is currently assessing an application "as a matter of priority" made by the exporter to re-export the livestock.
The situation of live export animals returning to Australia has authorities scrambling to make unique and complex assessments.
Factors in that decision-making include balancing of biosecurity regulations, animal welfare and export legislation considerations, the potential of sending off-loaded animals to slaughter and whether trading partners would support some or all of the animals being re-exported.
However, the RSPCA has demanded that DAFF intervene using powers under the Export Control Act to stop re-exporting.
The exporters' registered veterinarian stationed on board for the vessel for the voyage duration has also been liaising with the department.
Dr Cookson said stakeholders were "very conscious of the need to move quickly" and that engagement with stakeholders had been constructive and collaborative.
On-board staff have been cleaning the ship's stalls and providing new bedding and water and feed for the animals.
Australian Livestock Exporters' Council CEO Mark Harvey-Sutton said it was "appalling" that activists and some politicians had been making "ludicrous claims.. without firsthand evidence."
"Once again, activists are spreading lies to further their own cause and it's time it was called out," he said.
"While industry has worked diligently with the Australian Government to resolve this issue in the full knowledge that there are processes and procedures to handle circumstances such as these.
"We, as an industry, have had to endure intolerable lies about what is going on - all from people that have never set foot on a livestock vessel once in their lives.
"Last night I saw a representative of the RSPCA on television, when asked what conditions were like on the vessel, describing the most horrid conditions without a scrap of evidence to support their claims."
Meanwhile, WA Premier Roger Cook told local Perth radio on Wednesday that the interests of primary producers must be strongly considered when asked about the looming ban.
"The fact of the matter is .. a lot of our farmers rely upon an ecosystem, which involves live animal exports," he said.
"So, if the Commonwealth wants to move away from that, they have to be able to provide a solution to the farmers about how that will impact on their industry."