Livestock shipping deaths on Bass Strait prompt calls for tougher laws

Tasmania's livestock regulations need an urgent overhaul after more cattle deaths on the Bass Strait crossing, an animal rights lawyer says.

Ten out of the 38 animals on board a ship travelling from King Island to Devonport on Tuesday night were either dead on arrival or needed to be put down due to their condition.

It happened almost one year after 59 cattle died while being transported on a ship travelling between Tasmania and Victoria.

Principal lawyer at the Animal Law Institute Malcolm Caulfield said authorities should consider a review of the type of vessels used to transport the animals, and whether there was a need for independent inspectors.

"It's evident, given that this has now happened again, that there's something seriously wrong with the system and we need to have a published investigation and changes in laws to stop this happening again," he said.

"It may be that what's needed is a review of vessels that are suitable for these voyages, and it may be that we need independent observers to be present at loading at ships in order to be able to decide if it's appropriate that ships should sail.

"At the moment the shipping company makes that decision."

Mr Caulfied said Tasmania's regulations needed an overhaul.

"People have been referring erroneously to the Bass Strait guidelines, shipping guidelines, but they're nothing more than guidelines," he said.

"They are not laws as such, so we need to ramp the whole thing up."

RSPCA Tasmania said it was "tragically ironic" the latest cattle deaths happened almost a year after deaths in similar circumstances.

"It is tragically ironic that this has happened almost 12 months to the day after we lost over 50 head of cattle across Bass Strait and in a way it's kind of sad and kind of frustrating that this continues to happen."

More than 2,000 cattle are shipped between King Island and Devonport each month.

The Department of Primary Industries is investigating the deaths.

Mr Caulfield said the results of federal and state authorities' investigations into last February's incident had not been released.

Source: ABC News