New Zealand plans on banning livestock trade by sea for animal welfare reasons. Animal agriculture is one of the countries biggest industries.

New Zealand will cease the export of livestock by sea following a transition period of up to two years, agriculture minister Damien O’Connor has said.

“At the heart of our decision is upholding New Zealand’s reputation for high standards of animal welfare. We must stay ahead of the curve in a world where animal welfare is under increasing scrutiny,” O’Connor said on Wednesday.This decision will affect some farmers, exporters and importers, and a transition period will enable the sector to adapt, he added.

Live exports by sea represent approximately 0.2{85424e366b324f7465dc80d56c21055464082cc00b76c51558805a981c8fcd63} of New Zealand’s primary sector exports revenue since 2015. New Zealand has exported just one voyage of sheep in the past 13 years. O’Connor said officials had spoken to key trading partners about the decision.

Unlike Australia, New Zealand does not export live exports for slaughter, only for breeding. Since the start of 2020, Kiwi exporters have sent 118,000 cattle overseas, all to China. TVNZ has reported the government informed the Chinese embassy a fortnight ago warning of the move. “This is not about China. It’s about animal welfare,” O’Connor said.

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.”

New Zealand said last year it was reviewing live exports when it introduced interim measures following the capsizing of a ship bound for China that killed nearly 6,000 cows and 41 of the 43 crew members. The RSPCA has applauded the decision and called on Australia to follow suit.

RSPCA Australia senior policy officer, Dr Jed Goodfellow, said live export has “arguably damaged Australia’s farming reputation more than any other practice”. “It is inherently high-risk, with decades of repeated evidence of suffering and cruelty,” Goodfellow said. “New Zealand has made the right decision, and with it, is securing its international reputation as a world leader in high quality, ethical agricultural products – while Australia is left behind yet again. The export of live animals for slaughter has been banned in New Zealand for nearly 15 years, but here, the trade still continues in its entirety.” Australia exported 170,657 breeding cattle in 2020, primarily to China and Pakistan, Goodfellow said.

Some 500 Australian and New Zealand dairy cows died after being exported to Sri Lanka – a tenth of all the cattle sent to the country as part of a $100m scheme underwritten by the Australian government. Australian exporters told the ABC in 2019 that “poor farm management practices” by Sri Lankan farmers was to blame.
“There are no laws to protect them once they’re there,” Goodfellow said. “This is a sleeper issue and a crisis waiting to happen again. The Australian government must act immediately to close these loopholes.”

The Australian agriculture minister, David Littleproud, said Australia has “no plans to suspend or ban live exports”.“The federal government is confident in our standards, regulations and laws to ensure high standards of animal welfare for livestock exports,” he said. “The Australian Government continues to support the live animal exports trade and its contribution to the Australian economy.”

Original source: https://www.theguardian.com