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Source: SAFE NZ

The two-year phaseout of the export of livestock by sea, announced by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last week, could mean over 200,000 animals will be shipped overseas before the cruel trade is ended.
TVNZ’s ‘Sunday’ programme last night revealed ship wide suffering on the Yangtze Harmony last year, where 49 cows died during a voyage to China, with a further 19 killed after arrival.
SAFE CEO Debra Ashton is calling on the Government to implement an immediate ban.
“With the horrific impacts for animals exposed by ‘Sunday,’ including an ‘abortion storm’, there is no reason to delay,” said Ashton
“If the Government is serious about animal welfare, they should move to protect the thousands of animals who will continue to suffer in live export by stopping this trade immediately.”
The ban on the export of livestock by sea has been celebrated by animal welfare advocates and experts. Dr. John Hellstrom, former chair of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee said, “Once again, it has taken the leadership and advocacy of SAFE to achieve a major advance in animal welfare.”
“Without their work this long overdue ban on export of livestock by sea from New Zealand would not have been achieved,” said Hellstrom. “This move [Banning live export] will significantly improve our international animal welfare reputation. Most importantly, it will stop the suffering and distress these animals have had to endure.”
The Agriculture Minister announced last week that the export of livestock by sea would be phased out over two-years. However, the vast majority of animals exported are day-old chicks and aquatic life, who are shipped by air. Over 2.5 million day-old chicks were exported from Aotearoa in 2020. SAFE wants live export by air banned too.
On TVNZ’s ‘Sunday’ programme last night, the Minister admitted he doesn’t know what happens to animals exported overseas. Dr. John Hellstrom said the animals will face a much harder and shorter life than they would have in New Zealand.”
“Our biggest concern has always been the way animals are treated in their destination country,” said Ashton. “All of the countries we export animals to have lower standards of animal welfare than our own. Neither the exporting companies nor the Government know what happens to these animals.”
“We can’t impose our laws on other countries, but we can choose to stop exporting to them immediately.”
SAFE is New Zealand’s leading animal rights organisation.
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– ‘Sunday’ revealed on one voyage on board the Yangtze Harmony, which left New Plymouth 19 August 2020 widespread suffering. “By day three, the bedding was gone, meaning the cattle had to stand for a prolonged period, up to 14 days. Up to 80 cattle got their head stuck under pen railings. There were broken legs, infections, significant numbers of lame cattle, on an overstocked boat on rough seas. All contributed to 49 mortalities on board, and another 14 deaths during the cattle’s first month in China.”
– ’Sunday’ also cited conditions from post-voyage reports such as overcrowding and animals dying of trampling and suffocation. There was a shocking report of a peak ‘abortion storm’, with 13 cases noted. Veterinarian and animal welfare expert Dr. John Hellstrom stated, “Animals don’t start aborting for stress related reasons until they’re pretty stressed.”
– The Government began a review of the live export trade in June 2019. This was after SAFE raised concerns at the treatment of New Zealand cows in Sri Lanka, which was subsequently reported on by ABC News.
– Last year, SAFE broke the news that the live export ship Gulf Livestock 1 had capsized and sunk off the coast of China. The tragedy saw 5,867 New Zealand cows drown, and 41 crew members, including two New Zealanders, were lost at sea.
– Recent analysis from The Guardian has found that live export ships are twice as likely to be lost at sea as cargo vessels.
– In 2003, Saudi Arabia rejected a shipment of over 57,000 Australian and New Zealand sheep on board the MV Cormo Express on alleged disease grounds and refused to unload them. After two months at sea and the ship being unable to find a port, around 6,000 of the sheep died on board. Following this disaster, the New Zealand Government suspended the export of live sheep for slaughter. In 2007, a conditional prohibition on the export of livestock (cattle, sheep, deer and goats) was introduced.
– Under the Animal Welfare (Export of Livestock for Slaughter) Regulations 2016, live animals cannot be exported for slaughter without the approval of the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries. Approval may only be granted if the Director-General considers that the risks to New Zealand’s trade reputation can be adequately managed. There have been no livestock exports for slaughter since 2008.
– Animals exported for breeding purposes and their young will still eventually be slaughtered, potentially by methods that would not be legal in New Zealand.