21 July 2015

University of Queensland scientists are leading a ground-breaking international animal welfare project.

UQ’s School of Veterinary Science has been working with partners in China, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand to build awareness around improving animal welfare at slaughter and during transport in Asia.

Director of UQ’s Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics Professor Clive Phillips and project manager Michelle Sinclair have returned from a mission to China, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, where they were joined by other internationally recognised animal welfare experts.

Ms Sinclair said much of South and East Asia did not yet have legislation or monitoring for animal welfare.

“We aim to increase awareness about the international animal welfare guidelines set out by the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE), part of the United Nations, which also supports this project,” she said.

“In those countries that do have new legislation, such as Thailand, they are still developing codes of practice and infrastructure.”

Ms Sinclair said that in addition to Asia’s changing animal welfare legal landscape, the global trade of live production animals and animal products was increasing.

“Environmental factors and consumers’ growing concern for animal welfare has the potential to jeopardise trade, so it’s the right time to offer support in developing animal welfare standards and capacities towards improvement in the region,” she said.

“We are also conducting research to better understand the knowledge levels and attitudes of key stakeholders such as slaughter workers and vets.”

Ms Sinclair said the project included high-level workshops with government officials, senior veterinarians and university lecturers in each country, and workshops with key industry stakeholders.

The project team will also up-skill animal welfare trainers in each country and create resources in the relevant languages.

Ms Sinclair said despite regional differences, the project countries all had a common desire to improve the animal welfare standards in their country.

These included the challenges for government in monitoring and enforcing animal welfare standards and the vast difference between large, often government-run, slaughterhouses and the smaller locally run operations.

The project is supported by the Australian, New Zealand and Malaysia governments, World Animal Protection, World Animal Health Organisation and the European Union.

More information can be found at http://www.animalwelfarestandards.org/.

Media: Michelle Sinclair, +61 430 231 179, m.sinclair6@uq.edu.au, Professor Clive Phillips, +61 7 5460 1158, +61 406 340 133, c.phillips@uq.edu.au, Karli Kollegger, Faculty of Science engagement officer, +61 7 5460 1279, 0488 780 229.