Live animal export on ships

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is responsible for the safe operation and mechanical standards of ships that carry livestock as cargo from Australian ports. These standards are made under the Navigation Act 2012 and contained in Marine Order 43 (Cargo and cargo handling – livestock) 2006.  

AMSA has high safety standards for livestock ships and takes its responsibility for enforcing these seriously. Ships that fail to meet these standards are not permitted to carry livestock from Australia. 

Ships that intend to carry livestock must have a valid Australian Certificate for the Carriage of Livestock (ACCL) which is issued by AMSA and reassessed every year. Without a valid ACCL, a ship cannot carry livestock from Australia. AMSA reserves the right to withdraw or suspend a ship’s ACCL if it fails to meet these standards. 

Ships that intend to carry livestock from an Australian port are subject to a livestock pre-loading inspection by AMSA. If the ship fails to meet the high safety standards enforced by AMSA, it may not be permitted to load livestock until those deficiencies are rectified. 

AMSA enforces the same safety standards on livestock ships regardless of what flag they fly (the country they are registered in), how old they are or whether they are purpose-built or converted ships. 

Livestock ships, like all ships arriving in Australia from overseas, are subject to AMSA’s rigorous inspection regime that identifies and tracks poor performing ships and targets them with increased compliance activities. 

This regime is known internationally as 'Port State Control’ where ‘Port State’ refers to Australia as the country in which the ship is arriving and ‘Control’ is the regulatory authority that AMSA exerts over these ships while they operate in Australian waters. 

AMSA does not accept sub-standard ships operating in Australian waters and has developed a reputation for having one of the most stringent inspection regimes in the world. 

Safe and clean seas, savings lives – is AMSA’s vision and its remit. 

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) regulates the live animal export industry. DAWE administers the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) and the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) which govern welfare standards for livestock exported from Australia. This includes the reporting mechanisms and investigations, where appropriate, into livestock mortalities at sea.