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New Zealand to ban live animal exports by 2023

The Gulf Livestock 1 is seen at Fremantle Harbour in Western Australia, November 13, 2019. Picture taken November 13, 2019. Brian W Scott via via REUTERS

New Zealand to ban live animal exports by 2023

The New Zealand Government has announced they will be banning all livestock exports by sea. 

New Zealand to ban live animal exports by 2023

Last year, the industry of live animal exports was thrown into the spotlight following the tragedy of the Gulf Livestock 1, a New Zealand cattle ship which sunk off the coast of Japan, taking the lives of 41 crew members.

Following the tragedy, the government put a temporary ban on the export of livestock, which was lifted in October 2020.

Now, New Zealand has announced a full ban on all livestock exports by sea, by 2023.

Speaking at the Beehive in Wellington today, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor revealed the plan to end the practice live animal exports.

“I acknowledge the economic benefit some farmers get from the trade, but I also note that support of it is not universal within the sector,” O’Connor said, adding that the Government needed to “stay ahead of the curve” when it comes to animal welfare.

Animal rights group SAFE, says they are happy about the plan, but that animals will suffer in the two-year wind-down period.

“This ban will mean that our animals will no longer suffer in countries with lower standards of animal welfare,’ the organisation said in a statement.

The Animal Genetic Trade Association (AGTA), who do not support the ban, says it will see farmers financially devastated and result in premature slaughter of thousands of livestock.

“This is an immoral ban against a trade being conducted humanely, with world leading standards. There is no morality in removing half a billion dollars from our economy and forcing the early deaths of up to 150,000 animals a year,” said AGTA spokesperson Dave Hayman.

O’Connor said he understands some farmers would have earned extra income from the livestock trade, but that the welfare concerns are more important.

“There remains an ongoing level of concern with the welfare of these animals while being at sea for up to three weeks,” he said.

“The fact is that once animals leave New Zealand by sea, we have very limited ability to ensure their wellbeing before they reach their destination.”

According to the minister, live exports by sea make up 0.2% of New Zealand’s primary sector export revenue.

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