No more live animal transports by sea from New Zealand

No more live animal transports by sea from New Zealand
The Gulf Livestock 1 in Australia, 2019, photo: Brian W Scott via MarineTraffic.com/Reuters

There will be no more live animal transports by sea from New Zealand, the agriculture minister announced on Friday as the country fully implements the live animal export ban based on animal welfare concerns. 

The government had declared in 2021 that live animal transports by sea, mainly to supply countries like China of cows, would be stopped, but farmers were given a two-year transition period to phase out the export business. In 2022, the total value of live animal exports was NZ$524 million ($322.78 million). 

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor highlighted that New Zealand’s location means journeys to China and other countries will always be long, resulting in unavoidable animal cruelty.

The country began reviewing live exports in 2020 and implemented temporary measures after a ship capsized en route to China, killing 6,000 young cows and 41 crew members.

Transport of animals by sea has been a subject of controversy because of animal welfare concerns associated with the practice. Animals are transported over long distances to reach various countries for breeding, fattening, or slaughter purposes.

Animals are often tightly packed into ships, leading to overcrowding, injuries and even fatalities. During long journeys, there may be insufficient access to food and water.

Inadequate ventilation and extreme temperature fluctuations can cause heat stress or hypothermia, which can be fatal for cows and other animals. Animals are often subject to rough handling during loading and unloading, increasing the risk of injuries.

Many animal welfare organizations advocate for stricter regulations and improved conditions during live animal transport. Some countries have implemented policies to ban or limit live exports due to the associated animal welfare concerns, as seen in the case of New Zealand.

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