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SPCA Calls For Total Ban On Live Sheep Exports

SPCA Calls For Total Ban On Live Sheep Exports

New Zealand's largest animal welfare organisation has called for a total and unequivocal ban on live sheep exports. The Royal New Zealand SPCA describes as ludicrously inadequate the Ministry of Agriculture's decision to put on-hold a live shipment to the Middle East of 60,000 New Zealand sheep. The SPCA also says that the ill-fated voyage of the ship Cormo Express, with its cargo of live Australian sheep, provides lessons which New Zealand cannot afford to ignore.

In excess of 50,000 sheep have spent more than seven weeks on the Cormo Express, initially en route for Saudi Arabia. The Saudi authorities rejected the sheep on health grounds in late August. Since then, other Middle Eastern and South Asian countries have also refused to accept the cargo. Approximately 4,000 of the sheep have perished on the voyage.

"Australia's reputation as a food exporting country is unlikely to escape unscathed from the worldwide media coverage engendered by the apparently futile search for a port to disembark this latest cargo of suffering animals," says the Royal New Zealand SPCA's Chief Executive, Peter Blomkamp.

"As New Zealanders, we must ensure that our reputation is not similarly sullied. Given the global reach of today's media, any live shipment from here would be bound to damage our reputation both as a humane and responsible nation and as a quality food producer," he says.

Mr Blomkamp adds that it is ludicrously inadequate for MAF to put a shipment of New Zealand sheep on hold merely until such time as the fate of the Cormo Express's cargo is known. "There is a pressing need for the government to go far beyond the temporary suspension of specific live shipments and to introduce legislation at an early date, totally and unequivocally banning the export of live sheep," he says.

"Make no mistake about it; the live sheep trade is a barbarous and cruel business, with sheep kept in tightly-packed pens on open decks. For weeks on end, they endure a man-made hell, with all too many of them dying from infections, from extremes of temperature or other hazards of the voyage.

"We need to bear in mind that markets for meat slaughtered in New Zealand far exceed those for live animals transported over thousands of kilometres and often slaughtered in obscene conditions. We should also remember that sophisticated and affluent markets in the developed world are increasingly sensitive to ethical issues connected with food production," says Mr Blomkamp.

"We cannot afford to endanger these markets by appearing oblivious to animal suffering. Nor, from a purely ethical standpoint, should we ever countenance the cruelties of the live sheep trade," he adds.

Mr Blomkamp says that a total ban on live sheep exports should not mean the end of our meat exports to Islamic countries, as facilities for humane Halal slaughtering exist in New Zealand.

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