Reuters – New Zealand said April 14 it will stop the export of livestock by sea following a transition period of up to two years, citing animal welfare concerns for a decision that will affect major trading partners including Australia and China.
The ban was welcomed by animal welfare groups, but the peak farming industry body said it was caught by surprise and was unaware of any breaches of standards.
Live exports by sea represent about 0.2 per cent of New Zealand’s primary sector exports revenue since 2015 which has averaged around NZ$60 million (C$53.65 million) per year from 2015 to 2019. New Zealand exported 113,285 cattle by sea last year.
“We have not been able to guarantee the safety of these animals at sea and that’s an unacceptable risk for New Zealand,” Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor told reporters, adding that key trading partners were informed of the decision.
“I recognize the importance of our trade relationships with our international partners and we’re committed to working with them as we transition away from the shipment of livestock,” he said.
Asked if there were concerns the move would upset China, a top importer of live cattle, O’Connor said: “This is not about China. It’s about animal welfare and our reputation.”
Simone Clarke, executive director of World Animal Protection New Zealand, said the decision was a “significant moment in our history for animals, one which other governments around the world must now follow.”
However, Wayne Langford, a spokesman for Federated Farmers of New Zealand, said the industry body “has no information about any breaches of the high standards relating to livestock exports.”