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Vets support tighter live animal export controls

Vets support tighter controls on export of live animals for slaughter

The New Zealand Veterinary Association has welcomed the Government’s decision to place restrictions on shipments of livestock for slaughter in other countries.

The Minister of Agriculture, Hon Jim Anderton, said on Wednesday that following a review of New Zealand’s policy on the export of livestock for slaughter Cabinet has decided the trade needs tighter control.

“For many years the Veterinary Association has been concerned that animals should not be shipped overseas for slaughter unless their welfare could be assured,” says Veterinary Association president John Maclachlan.

“We believe that the most humane situation is for animals to be slaughtered as close to the farm of origin as possible.”

Although there has been minimal export of live animals from New Zealand for slaughter in recent times, large shipments of sheep were exported, to the Middle East in particular, in the 1990s. Large losses on some shipments of sheep, in particular the Cormo Express, met with widespread public concern.

“As a result of the lessons learned from those experiences we now know a lot more about transporting animals in a way that better addresses their welfare needs and there has been a big improvement in shipping conditions,” said Dr Maclachlan.

“However, we remain concerned about what happens to the animals when they arrive at their destination. New Zealand has high standards in place for the transport, handling and slaughter of animals, but we don’t have confidence that the animals will meet with equivalent treatment in the countries to which they are being exported for slaughter.”

Proposals arising from the review of the policy on export of livestock, conducted by staff from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, will be discussed with industry groups affected.

Dr Maclachlan says the Veterinary Association looks forward to assisting in any way it can with formulating policy that assures the best welfare outcomes for the country’s livestock.

“For the animals’ sake we would definitely prefer that the trade did not resume, but if it does we want to know that they will be treated according to the welfare standards required in New Zealand,” he says.

Ends

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