The Australian government has announced the phasing out of live sheep exports by sea by May 1, 2028, to prioritize the welfare of Australian sheep.

The decision reflects a commitment to strong animal welfare practices and follows extensive consultation with industry and communities.

“Phasing out live sheep exports by sea by 1 May 2028 marks a considerable step forward for sheep welfare, reflecting our nation’s values of compassion and ethical treatment of animals,” said Anne Stanley, Member for Werriwa.

“I recognise that many in Werriwa will want to see the trade stopped tomorrow, and others not at all. This announcement strikes the right balance, based on extensive industry and community consultation.”

A $107 million transition support package has been allocated to assist in strengthening supply chains, developing market opportunities, and improving animal welfare.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry Murray Watt emphasized the bright future of the Australian sheep industry, highlighting the booming sheepmeat sector.

The move aims to boost domestic processing, increase farm gate returns, and create local jobs.

Australia’s lamb and mutton exports were worth $4.5 billion in 2022–23, and around $3.5 billion to domestic retail markets. Live sheep exports by sea were less than $77 million in 2022–23, less than 0.1% of Australia’s estimated agricultural production in that year.

Despite live sheep exports contributing minimally to agricultural production, sheepmeat exports have experienced significant growth, with increased demand domestically and internationally.

“While live sheep exports have shrunk by $338 million over the past 20 years, our sheepmeat exports have grown by over 300% over that same period, with exports to the North Africa and Middle East region more than tripling in value over this period,” Mr Watt said.