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Failed Cattle Shipment Exposes Live Exports' Inherent Flaws

A planned export of 12,300 cattle organised by Genetic Development Exports Limited Partnership failed after the livestock carrier Al Kuwait broke down en route to Aotearoa.

The delay resulted in subsequent animal welfare problems. Pregnant cows lost so much weight their calves had to be aborted by a vet.

SAFE CEO Debra Ashton said this is another example of why live export is a risky business.

"If the ship had broken down carrying 12,300 cows, this would have been another crisis at sea," said Ashton.

The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, which would give effect to a ban on live export, has reached the Committee of the whole House. Yesterday in Parliament, National Party MPs called for an extension to the two-year phase-out period.

"Live export is on the way out. The industry has had since April 2021 to get their affairs in order."

"The ban on live export by sea cannot be delayed. Thousands of animals continue to be put at risk and it’s only a matter of time before there’s another disaster."

 

SAFE is Aotearoa’s leading animal rights organisation.

We're creating a future that ensures the rights of animals are respected. Our core work empowers society to make kinder choices for ourselves, animals and our planet.

Notes for editors:

- The Government began a review of the live export trade in June 2019. This was after SAFE raised concerns about the treatment of New Zealand cows in Sri Lanka, which was subsequently reported on by ABC News.

- In 2020, SAFE broke the news that the live export ship Gulf Livestock 1 had capsized and sunk off the coast of China. The tragedy saw 5,867 New Zealand cows drown, and 41 crew members, including two New Zealanders, were lost at sea.

- Footage of a live export ship loading cows at PrimePort Timaru.

- Recent analysis from The Guardian has found that live export ships are twice as likely to be lost at sea as cargo vessels.

- Thousands of cows were recently stranded at sea for over two months in the Mediterranean following an outbreak of the viral disease bluetongue on two live export ships. Both ships had been refused entry at multiple ports. Over 800 cows on the ships were slaughtered as a result.

- In 2003, Saudi Arabia rejected a shipment of over 57,000 Australian and New Zealand sheep on board the MV Cormo Express on alleged disease grounds and refused to unload them. After two months at sea and the ship being unable to find a port, around 6,000 of the sheep died on board. Following this disaster, the New Zealand Government suspended the export of live sheep for slaughter. In 2007, a conditional prohibition on the export of livestock (cattle, sheep, deer and goats) for slaughter was introduced.

- Under the Animal Welfare (Export of Livestock for Slaughter) Regulations 2016, live animals cannot be exported for slaughter without the approval of the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries. Approval may only be granted if the Director-General considers that the risks to New Zealand’s trade reputation can be adequately managed. There have been no livestock exports for slaughter since 2008.

- Animals exported for breeding purposes and their young will still eventually be slaughtered, potentially by methods that would not be legal in New Zealand.

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