New Zealand officially ends live animal exports by sea Ship’s crew

New Zealand officially halted its livestock exports by sea citing animal welfare concerns when the last living export vessel left the country, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced on Friday.

The ban comes after the sinking of cattle trucks golf cattle 1 in 2020, over 6,000 cattle were transported to China, resulting in the deaths of all but two crew members and all animals on board.

The New Zealand government’s decision to end live exports by sea came in 2021 following a sinking-induced review of the live export sector. A two-year transition period ends on April 30, 2023. The exit gave affected farmers time to adjust their supply chains and switch to other business models.

O’Connor reiterated the Government’s commitment to animal welfare and its aim to protect its reputation as the world’s leading food producer. The decision to ban live exports by sea was supported by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee.

“As of 2015, live exports by sea accounted for just 0.32 percent of primary sector export earnings. While recognizing the economic benefits for some farmers, we must also protect the international reputation of our $53 billion annual primary export industry. That is why we initiated the review in 2019 and subsequently decided to stop exporting live animals by sea until the end of April 2023,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor went on to explain that the government’s decision is part of a series of measures to protect future export growth. Instead, New Zealand will work with trading partners to improve the productivity and efficiency of their livestock systems.

“As global consumer trends change, we must change with them or risk being left behind. This government is committed to ensuring that our farmers remain at the forefront of sustainable and ethical trade and that every part of our food production system adheres to high animal welfare standards,” said O’Connor.

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