Beginning in April 2023, New Zealand to ban export of live animals via sea

Two years after storms sunk a livestock ship, killing 41 crew members and 6,000 cattle, New Zealand will outlaw the export of live animals beginning in April of next year.

The loss of two New Zealanders from the Gulf Livestock 1 crew in a storm in September 2020 sparked a drive to outlaw the shipping of live sheep and cattle.

The government said that the animal welfare amendment bill would safeguard New Zealand’s reputation as customers become more morally aware when it was signed into law on Thursday. “It protects the reputation of not just our farmers now, but the farmers of the future,” the agriculture minister, Damien O’Connor, said.

Live exports have been the focus of protracted protests by animal protection organisations in Australia and New Zealand. When they go wrong, thousands of animals frequently drown.

A live export ship sank in Sudan earlier this year, killing almost 15,000 sheep, and 14,000 sheep perished in a capsize in 2020. Three months of stranding 3,000 cattle at sea in 2021 resulted in many of them dying, starving, or becoming fatally dehydrated.

Even a best-case scenario voyage for animals across New Zealand is frequently challenging due to its extreme isolation.

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“New Zealand’s remoteness means animals are at sea for extended periods, heightening their susceptibility to heat stress and other welfare-associated risks,” O’Connor said.

“Despite any regulatory measures we could put in place, the voyage times and the journey through the tropics to the northern hemisphere markets will always impose challenges.”

On April 30, 2023, the nation will no longer export any animals via sea. Last year, New Zealand exported 134,722 cattle; live exports made up roughly 0.6% of total primary sector exports. Only animals for breeding, not for killing, are exported from New Zealand.

Animal rights advocates and the Green Party have praised the action.

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