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New Zealand’s shameful live sheep shipments resume

New Zealand’s shameful live sheep shipments resume

Eighteen months after the disastrous Cormo Express shipment, New Zealand has started shipping sheep off shore again, the Green Party says.

A shipment of 4500 sheep left for Mexico in February and a further 4500 are to leave for Mexico on Sunday, Greens’ Animal Welfare Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said.

The trade was suspended in 2003 when 5000 Australian sheep aboard the Cormo Express died and a further 43,000 spent two months stranded in the Persian Gulf after the ship was refused permission to unload in Saudi Arabia.

“Exporting live sheep, causing them to endure weeks of suffering confined in pens where there’s scarcely space to turn around in, breaches the Animal Welfare Act, which stipulates that humans must not cause animals to suffer,” Ms Kedgley said.

“Humans suffer when we travel 19 hours by plane, barely able to move. Imagine what sheep must experience when they are confined in pens on open decks for weeks on end with only 0.27 to 0.4 metres of space each.

“Many sheep die from sweltering heat, sea sickness and infections. All of this just so they can be slaughtered at the end of their journey.”

1400 cattle will also be shipped on Sunday to Mexico - and in a further three more shipments this month. Ms Kedgley said cattle exports have increased from 1700 to 7000 over the past two years - a 312 per cent increase.

Ms Kedgley said reports she had obtained under the Official Information Act detailing the conditions on live shipments show the atrocious conditions the animals endure on these long sea voyages.

In one recent 20-day voyage to China, cattle were at times “a foot deep in shit” according to the ship’s veterinarian, and at one point 50 cattle were lame. The ship’s ventilation broke down resulting in incredible heat and ammonia build-up on the decks where cattle were housed. Two animals died on the voyage, another was rejected by the Chinese and another was seriously ill when unloaded.

A report from another voyage shows that cows did not even have constant access to water and eight died, including three from overheating.

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