The country will also introduce new legislation to penalise any exporter that violates these standards. Under the proposal, a director of a company could face 10 years prison or A$2.1 million fine if the welfare standards are not met.
The Australian government, which relies on the support on rural voters, rejected a ban on live exports, the $977.47 million industry (A$1.3 billion), as it would cause too much damage to the country’s agricultural sector, according to Agricultural Minister, David Littleproud, as quoted by Reuters.
As such, the government will instead reduce the number of sheep a vessel can carry during the summer months by 28%, with independent observers onboard to ensure welfare standards are adhered to.
The policy comes in a bid to stem public anger, after footage emerged showing 2,400 sheep dying from heat stress on 'Awassi Express' bound for the Middle East last year. Putting independent observers on all boats will minimize such incidents, Mr. Littleproud told reporters in Sydney.
Australia’s chief commodity forecaster said in March it expects the sale of 930,000 head of cattle and 260,000 sheep this year, an industry worth A$1.3 billion.