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Review of the Code of Practice on the Humane Treatment of Wild and Farmed Australian Crocodiles

Our submission to the "Review of the Code of Practice on the Humane Treatment of Wild and Farmed Australian Crocodiles" is now available here. 

The Australian Government's Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water is reviewing the Code of Practice on the Humane Treatment of Wild and Farmed Australian Crocodiles to ensure Australian crocodiles are being properly cared for when removed from the wild and housed in farm environments.

In 2009, the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council endorsed the Code of Practice on the Humane Treatment of Wild and Farmed Australian Crocodiles (the Code of Practice). The Code of Practice, based on then best-practice knowledge of humane handling and crocodile welfare, established a series of minimum standards for Australia’s commercial crocodile industry.

Compliance with the Code of Practice is a requirement of approved Wildlife Trade Management Plans for the commercial use (and export) of crocodiles under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act). The Code of Practice has been in place for 14 years without an update.

The Code of Practice outlines the consistent set of minimum standards across all elements of crocodile farming including:

  • egg collection, transport, processing, and incubation
  • capture methods for captive and wild crocodiles
  • methods for restraining crocodiles
  • housing and maintenance standards
  • management of sick and injured crocodiles
  • humane methods of killing crocodiles
  • necessary training and experience for crocodile farm workers.

The Animal Justice Party contributed a 10-page submission to this consultation and made 6 recommendations.

  1. Ban on Crocodile Farming: We strongly recommend the introduction of a complete ban on the commercial farming of crocodiles. This should include the cessation of all practices that exploit crocodiles for their skin or other products. The ban is necessary to address the severe psychological and physical stress inflicted on crocodiles due to conditions that are fundamentally incompatible with their natural behaviors.
  2. Recognition of Crocodiles' Unique Nature and Cultural Significance to First Nations People: The revised Code should acknowledge the unique nature, cultural significance, and sentience of crocodiles. These animals, known for their complex behaviours and nurturing instincts, should not be reduced to mere commodities. The Code should reflect a growing global recognition of ethical issues related to animal exploitation.
  3. Support Mechanisms for Code Implementation: Comprehensive educational programs and training in ethical wildlife management are essential for implementing the revised Code. Public awareness campaigns and reskilling of workers in the crocodile industry into non-exploitative careers are critical for a smooth transition.
  4. Preparation of a Business Case for Non-Animal 'Leather' Production: In line with Recommendation 3, we recommend the preparation of a business case for the production of non-animal 'leather' and other sustainable materials. This case should explore the potential economic benefits and market opportunities of transitioning to cruelty-free alternatives. It should consider the growing global demand for ethical and sustainable products and the potential for Australia to become a leader in this innovative industry. This move not only aligns with ethical practices but also presents significant economic opportunities in the burgeoning market for sustainable materials.
  5. Incorporation of Scientific Literature and Ethical Alternatives: The review process should incorporate scientific literature focusing on the welfare of crocodiles and the impact of farming practices. This includes studies on their behavioural, physical, and psychological needs, and the stark contrast between their natural habits and conditions in farms. Additionally, research on sustainable, non-animal based materials as alternatives for fashion products should be evaluated.
  6. Minimising Human Interaction with Wild Crocodiles: It is imperative to clearly define and strictly limit human engagement with wild crocodiles. Interactions should be confined to essential conservation efforts, scientific research benefiting crocodile welfare and ecosystem health, and necessary actions for public safety, all conducted with the highest ethical standards.

Our Conclusion

The exploitation of crocodiles for commercial purposes presents not only a severe animal welfare issue but also a significant environmental and biodiversity concern. The current Australian practices disregard the intrinsic value and ecological role of these animals. It's essential to shift towards a more compassionate and sustainable approach, aligning with global movements against animal exploitation in industries like fur and leather. It is time that Australia adopts a modern, ethical approach that reflects a global movement away from animal exploitation for commercial gain.
There is no humane way to keep these animals in captivity.


You can download and read our full submission below.

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