AN ANIMAL rights organisation has called for an immediate suspension of all live animal transports from the state after the deaths of 59 cattle on board a ship that left port at Stanley this week.
Animal rights body Animals Australia has called the incident ‘‘one of the worst live shipping disasters’’ in the country’s history and called for a suspension of live animal shipments until the conclusion of an investigation into the matter.
The vessel is believed to have left port from Stanley bound for the Victorian berth of Port Welshpool on Sunday night.
On arrival in Victoria it was discovered that 59 animals had died during the journey and others had to be euthanased because of their injuries.
Animals Australia, in a statement released on Wednesday, demanded all parties responsible for the shipment be prosecuted under animal cruelty legislation.
‘‘This is another appalling example of commercial interests being put ahead of the interests of animals. It is reckless and negligent in the extreme for this shipment to have taken to sea knowing that these cattle would face Bass Strait at its worst,’’ Animals Australia’s campaign director Lyn White said.
The incident is being jointly investigated by Victorian and Tasmanian authorities.
The Department of Primary Industries, Water and the Environment said it was working closely with the Victorian authority and all circumstances, including sea conditions, were being investigated as possible causes for the deaths.
BOM spokesman Malcolm Riley said on Sunday there were easterly winds and there were warnings put out during the day that eased and were lifted early in the evening.
There was a strong wind warning for the southern part of the Strait and a gale warning for the north but they were lifted early afternoon.
Waves recorded from an oil rig called Kingfish B recorded a maximum of three metres on Sunday but they dropped to about one or 1.5-metres.
Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff said he was appalled by the incident.
Mr Rockliff said it was important the investigation was thorough and ‘‘left no stone unturned’’ to ensure the best outcome and ensure the authorities do their job to prevent any further incidents.
RSPCA Tasmania general manager Peter West said there was a need for serious investigation into the nature of the incident and whether there were mitigating circumstances that caused the deaths.
‘‘This is a very sad event, no-one likes to see animals die or be hurt in this way,’’ he said.
He said he had been in contact with RSPCA in Victoria and said the Tasmanian and Victorian branches of the organisation were taking the incident very seriously.
‘‘We will be pushing for an outcome of this review,’’ he said.
Mr West said the RSPCA would be investigating whether the shipping company provided any extra safety measures to keep the cattle safe during the journey.
Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association chief executive Peter Skillern said the incident was very serious but said they would be waiting on the outcome of the investigation.
‘‘We cant ignore this, but we need to have a thorough investigation of what went awry,’’ he said.
‘‘While this wasn’t of the industry’s making, it’s not a good look but the responsibility lies with the shipping company.’’
It’s believed the cattle were a shipment from North-West producer Greenhams en route to an abattoir in Victoria.
Greenhams declined to comment.