Live animal export ban lifts but SAFE wants total ban on livestock shipments


A temporary ban on live animal exports lifts today – but the number of animals which can be loaded on a ship will be capped.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has tightened the rules for exporters, who will also need to send daily reports about the conditions on board.

The Gulf Livestock 1 sailed from Napier last month, but capsized off the coast of Japan in a typhoon during its voyage to China.

Nearly 6000 cattle, and 41 people – including two New Zealanders – drowned.

MPI director general Ray Smith said ships departing this country would now have about 10 per cent fewer animals on board.

Ships would also need to increase their minimum fodder requirements to ensure at least 20 per cent of the feed was available for unplanned delays, Smith said.

He said the ministry was consulting veterinary scientists to see if that needed to be improved further.

“We’ve moved quickly following the Heron review to ensure no serious animal welfare issue for the 24,000 cows in pre-export quarantine, which would likely have to be slaughtered if interim measures weren’t put in place,” Smith said in a statement.

“We want to ensure they are moved safely. It’s important to note New Zealand does not export animals for slaughter, but as breeding stock.”

The review was led by Mike Heron QC, who said the export of livestock was a complex international undertaking involving farmers, exporters, vessel owners and trading partners.

“Our review found that while the system is robust, there are changes that can be made now to boost the assurances MPI receives,” he said in a statement.

MPI has yet to release its broader review into the live export trade, which then Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor ordered in June 2019.

Animal Genetics Trade Association spokesperson David Hayman said the decision meant there could be export earnings before Christmas, as almost $200 million in contracts was set to close between now and December.

Hayman said the first ship would leave early next month.

But Bianka Atlas, from the animal welfare group SAFE, wants to see all live animal exports banned.

“It’s important to note that these animals will eventually be slaughtered in their destination, potentially by methods that have been outlawed in New Zealand,” she said in a statement.

“We’re seriously concerned about what will happen to these animals in the destination country, and these recommendations won’t change that.”

She is worried that once animals reach their destination, they could be slaughtered using methods outlawed in this country.

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