Live export industry leaders have hit back at "false and misleading" information spread about the trade.
Over the past two weeks coverage of livestock carrier MV Bahijah, which was ordered to return to Australia due to security concerns in the Red Sea, has sparked heated debate.
On Sunday, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) secretary Adam Fennessy said daily veterinarian reports continued to indicate there were no significant health or welfare concerns with livestock that remained onboard the vessel.
Despite this, industry representatives say incorrect information has been spread about the trade and shared with outdated footage by some media outlets, individuals and organisations.
WA accredited stockwomen Mandy Matthews, Brookton, and Tiff Davey, Wongan Hills, know the conditions onboard live export vessels well, having taken part in voyages.
The pair labelled criticism targeted at the industry as "upsetting and frustrating" and have taken to social media to correct myths with science-based facts.
Ms Matthews, who grew up on a sheep and cattle farm in New Zealand, has sailed three voyages since working on her first live export ship last year.
"I always had that connection to industry, so when the opportunity came up I thought, 'why not?'," Ms Matthews said.
"After the first voyage I fell in love, for me it is about believing in it from all aspects - for WA farmers, helping to provide care onboard, and the importance of industry itself and export markets.
"That's what drives me to do it."
Ms Davey grew up on a mixed farming property at Konnongorring, and spent a few years travelling Australia and working on cattle stations in western Queensland.
It was there she developed an interest for live export, being fascinated by the fact animals being produced were feeding people internationally.
"It was around the time live export was in the media and I was interested in formulating my own opinion," Ms Davey said.
"After going into the export market and seeing for myself how Australia was feeding people across the world, I wanted to be a part of it."
Ms Davey has been sailing since 2019, and has worked on long haul voyages into the Middle East as an independent contractor.
She said Australia influenced the global standards in animal welfare across the world.
"On ships we train the crew and they take the skills learned back to their country," Ms Davey said.
"A lot of them are developing countries that don't have that western level of welfare and we are able to work with, and mentor them on how to handle the animals.
"You create those relationships onboard and they still contact me for advice on animals - that's how we know we are having a global impact."
Ms Matthews said the general role of a stockperson was to offer expert advice and ensure the welfare of livestock.
She said livestock were watched at all times and any that showed signs of being sick or lame were separated, so they could be given better care and attention.
"On the ship livestock are kept under shade, they have water a couple of metres away, plenty of food and someone who is constantly keeping an eye on them," Ms Matthews said.
"If you think they need more chaff or feed, you give it to them, if their troughs aren't clean enough, you clean them."
The women have responded to misconceptions about the live export industry by debunking some of the biggest myths.
Myth: Livestock are knee deep in their own waste onboard
As someone who travels with livestock for multiple weeks at a time, Ms Davey said every part of the voyage was regulated, tried and tested.
She said cattle pens received regular cleaning with fresh sawdust, ensuring a clean and comfortable voyage.
Separately, sheep hooves compact the pen creating a dry pad - that is not sticky - similar to a paddock stock pad or sheepyards.
"The industry has changed drastically in the past five, and particularly 10 years, so the comments around faeces are incorrect," Ms Davey said.
"With cattle, the pens start off as sawdust and as required the pen is completely cleaned out through the voyage.
"There is a member of the ship's crew with cattle all day every day, there is not one part of the voyage where they are left unattended."
Ms Davey said sheep were different to cattle in that they carried dirt and dust in the wool, and eat and drink less.
"They create a dry pad and are also monitored throughout the voyage multiple times a day," she said.
"If their faeces are ever sticky or they seem the slightest bit uncomfortable, then that is addressed.
"We have independent observers onboard.. the department is part of the process and regulations around maintenance - it is all based on science and data."
Ms Matthews added, "if ammonia does build up or there are sticky pens, we put sawdust in there".
"Sheep and cattle are always happy enough to walk through pens."
Myth: Onboard ventilation and temperature is not monitored
Ms Davey and Ms Matthews said one of the biggest myths was that the ship had to be sailing to be ventilated, which was untrue.
They said ventilation ran 24/7 including when the ships were docked at port.
Ms Davey said temperature and airflow was under 24/7 surveillance and data was recorded using Kestrel devices every 20 minutes in numerous spots across each deck.
She said data was provided to DAFF at the end of every voyage.
The crew and onboard veterinarian or stockperson also monitor the temperature and wet-bulb temperature.
This is included in daily reports for the department and exporter.
Separately, stocking density varies depending on what part of Australia the animal leaves from and where they are arriving.
Since 2017, industry has increased spacing allocation for sheep meaning they have up to 38 per cent more space onboard.
This ensures all animals can access feed and water and can all lie down at once on the ship.
Key considerations include physical characteristics such as weight, overall size, gender and other allometric factors.
Allocation space also varies depending on the time of year, destination and origin of animals.
Myth: Livestock are stressed and fatigued
"Animals eat, sleep, chew cud and repeat," Ms Davey said.
Ms Matthews added, "anyone with experience of animals can see that animals are happy, healthy and content".
According to the pair, sheep and cattle on voyage by sea have a daily schedule where they are fed at 7am and 3pm and then nap for two hours in the afternoon.
Ms Davey said this was a similar routine to livestock on land who put themselves into a schedule where they water, graze and camp up during the day.
"That is exactly the same for livestock on a ship, which is the equivalent of a floating feedlot, or in a feedlot," she said.
"We judge an animal on its natural displays and behaviour, stressed animals don't camp out or chew cud, so when we are making assessments that's the kind of thing we are looking for."
Myth: It is a catastrophe when animals are sick onboard a live export vessel
The women dismissed this by saying that each live export ship deck had a mandatory hospital pen and a minimum amount of medication in case it was required.
Sick animals receive individual care from veterinarians or experienced stock people.
All livestock are monitored daily and when an animal is sick or injured it is taken to a hospital pen to be treated by onboard veterinarians or accredited stockpersons, with treatments recorded and reported by authorities.
Upon arrival, animals from the hospital pen are unloaded separately and placed in a designated area at the receiving feedlot.