New Zealand bans live animal export by sea (INTERVIEW)

New Zealand said on Wednesday it will stop the export of live animals by sea. They will phase out the industry over two years.

“The fact is that once animals leave New Zealand by sea, we have very limited ability to ensure their well-being before they reach their destination,” New Zealand’s agriculture minister Damien O’Connor said during a press conference.

“At the heart of our decision is upholding New Zealand’s reputation for high standards in animal welfare,” O’Connor said.

New Zealand said last year it reviewed live exports after a ship carrying almost 6000 young cows from New Zealand to China capsized in September. All animals and 42 crew members died.

“It’s not about China, it’s about animal welfare. We have a mature relationship with them. I’m sure they understand our position that we want to uphold our reputation to ensure that everything that we trade is from an ethical base,” O’Connor said.

Debra Ashton, CEO of the animal welfare organisation SAFE, was pleased with the news: “SAFE has been campaigning on this issue for many years because of our concerns for how animals are treated when they are exported overseas.”

“This ban will mean that our animals will no longer suffer in countries with lower standards of animal welfare,” she said.

It’s crucial that more countries follow New Zealand’s example, Ashton said, because otherwise, live animal exporters will look at other countries for animals to ship.

Ashton was appalled to hear that some exporters were already looking for animals in Australia to fill the gap once New Zealand stops exporting.

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