More than 15,000 cattle and sheep remain on a livestock carrier ordered to return to Australia after rerouting away from the Red Sea.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp reported a stalemate between the exporter and the federal government regarding the 7,850-dwt Bahijah (built 2010) at the port of Fremantle, Western Australia.

The Israeli-controlled ship was told to head back to Australia last week after it diverted to South Africa instead of heading to Aqaba in Jordan, due to the security situation in the Red Sea.

Industry observers said this was the first indication that livestock ships were starting to reroute from the region.

The carrier had left on 5 January.

The animals are now stuck on the ship in sweltering summer conditions.

They have been on board for 25 days.

The Bahijah arrived back in Australia on Monday and had been expected to dock on Tuesday morning.

Instead, it lies at anchorage, 10 km (six miles) off the port.

Western Australia premier Roger Cook told ABC Radio Perth he believed the animals’ welfare remained fairly high, “but obviously they’ve been at sea now for quite a few days”.

‘Smell pretty bad’

Animal rights groups want the livestock unloaded instead of being sent back on a 33-day voyage around South Africa.

Fremantle mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge said: “It’s going to smell pretty bad … but I think it’s probably most importantly a reminder of why this trade is deeply inhumane.”

Clarksons lists the owner as Dabbah Slaughterhouse of Israel, which could not be contacted.