January 2013

NEW ZEALAND has had a moratorium preventing the export of live animals for slaughter since 2003. Prior to this over one million sheep were exported annually. The issue of live export has continued to be a major issue over the Tasman, with many Australians calling for a ban.

New Zealand's live export cruelty

Whilst live export for slaughter from New Zealand is banned, live export for breeding purposes has been going on for several years, although with a low level of awareness about the issue. More recently the number of dairy cows has been on the increase, particularly to China which has a growing dairy industry. New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra now owns five farms in China.

In January 2013 the largest every shipment, 7,200 dairy cows, were due to be exported.

 SAFE is very concerned about the welfare of New Zealand dairy cows taken overseas. Up to 3000 animals are contained per ship, with around 12 in each pen. A journey to China takes over 17 days and animals are then subjected to 45 days quarantine upon arrival.

Although mortality rates may be low on these shipments compared to those that transport animals for slaughter there are a number of problems such as the journey itself being stressful for the animals. There is also the potential for serious suffering. A shipment of dairy cattle to Mexico hit bad weather a number of years ago causing the cows to abort their calves and falling over and breaking their legs. As a result nearly one hundred animals died. It is also possible that exported dairy cows will end up in factory farms and there are no guarantees about the standard of slaughter in some of these countries.

SAFE will be investigating this issue further. In the meantime you can raise your concerns by contacting your MP






PERTH NOW - A historic decision has just been announced by the City of Fremantle to support a phase out of live exports. More than 80 per cent of the nearly 4 million Australian sheep exported in 2006 were loaded through the port of Fremantle.

Sheep  load

Fremantle Council has now joined Greens Member for South East Metropolitan, Lynn MacLaren, and Federal Labour Member for Fremantle, Melissa Parke, in opposing live exports on the grounds of cruelty.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the time had come for the "cruel and unnecessary live sheep trade to be phased out and replaced with a trade that supports local jobs".

"This motion is not designed to move the trade south from Fremantle to Kwinana. We want it stopped all together and replaced with the less cruel and better economic outcome of frozen meat," Mr Pettitt said.

Stop Live Exports campaign manager Jodie Jankevics said: "We welcome Fremantle Council taking this strong stance against live exports. There are many animal welfare concerns with this trade, and despite industry claims, very little improvements to animal welfare have been made.

"Not only are live exports cruel, but they don't make economic sense either.

"Recent reports released show that a sheep processed domestically is worth 20 per cent more to the Australian economy than one exported live, due to the capacity to value add in Australia.

"Added to that, many West Australians are losing their jobs in the processing sector. Live export are sending animals overseas that would normally be processed here."


Carter protest


Startling contradictions in statements made by Minister of Agriculture, David Carter, on the Sunday programme last Sunday regarding the resumption of live sheep exports, has led animal advocates to question whether the minister is a ‘wolf in sheep's clothing.'

The programme screened disturbing footage of suffering and dying sheep in the Middle East en route to slaughter, and questioned whether New Zealand will resume this trade after a six-year moratorium. National animal advocacy organisation SAFE says that the minister's integrity must be questioned after giving such mixed messages.

"Agriculture minister David Carter appears to be hedging his bets by publicly making assurances that the trade will not resume under his watch, while also giving live sheep exporters the impression that they will be able to re-start their trade in the near future," says SAFE campaign director Hans Kriek.

Sheep protest

Sheep protest 2

"The minister needs to quit acting like a wolf in sheep's clothing," says Mr Kriek. "His assurances that sheep will only be exported if high animal welfare standards are met are disingenuous, as no standards can prevent widespread animal suffering. These arduous voyages through some of the harshest climatic conditions in the world cause hundreds of sheep to die during every shipment, predominantly from starvation."

SAFE will seek a written assurance from the minister to back up his statements that he will not allow the live export trade to resume. SAFE will also ask the minister to amend the Customs Exports Prohibition (Livestock for Slaughter) Order by introducing a permanent ban on the exportation of live animals for slaughter.


The ghastly live sheep export trade must never resume, which is why SAFE is gearing up to mount a national campaign to prevent sheep shipments from ever again leaving New Zealand shores.

Thankfully New Zealand has had a moratorium preventing the export of live sheep for slaughter since 2003. Prior to this over one million sheep were exported annually. SAFE understands that for the past four years Saudi officials have been negotiating with New Zealand ministry officials to try to lift what is, in effect, a ban. New Zealand now faces the real possibility of this shameful trade starting all over again.

SAFE campaign director Hans Kriek says "Only a huge public outcry will force the government to not restart the trade. If you have never written a letter to help animals, now is the time to make a start."

SAFE is working in a coalition with other animal advocacy organisations in an effort to combine resources to ensure we can convince the government not to lift the moratorium.

New Zealand resumes trade

New Zealand is poised to resume exporting live sheep to the Middle East, outraging SAFE and the Green Party.

The Green Party says a deal that would see our sheep sent on a three week ocean journey to the Middle East simply to be slaughtered as part of a Hajj festival is imminent.

The Government has confirmed plans for an agreement with Saudi Arabia to resume exports.

"Every exporter in New Zealand should be very concerned, because this is going to damage New Zealand's reputation, and for what?" asks SAFE campaign director Hans Kriek. "For just one overseas company that wants to export sheep? Seems crazy."

New Zealand stopped live exports in 2004 after 5000 sheep died on an Australian ship bound for Saudi Arabia, prompting international disgust.

But the demand for live sheep is now bigger than ever, driven by the Hajj festival where sheep are sacrificed as part of Muslim culture.

View TV3 article


News that the New Zealand Government is being pressured to allow live sheep shipments to resume has sparked outrage and has resulted in SAFE gearing up for an international campaign. The Saudi Minister of Agriculture recently visited New Zealand to inspect sheep farms in the Hawke's Bay region and to have talks with New Zealand Minister of Agriculture Jim Anderton.

Sheep truckSAFE is extremely alarmed at Saudi Arabia's efforts to sway Anderton to allow live sheep shipments from New Zealand to resume. Anderton recently decided to prohibit the export of live sheep, cattle, deer and goats for slaughter, unless it was proven that stress, injuries and deaths could be minimised.

"No matter what conditions are placed on exporters, live shipments are inherently cruel and the bad treatment of the animals in the country of destination further adds to their suffering. Resumption of this despicable trade will be met by the strongest opposition possible," says SAFE campaign director Hans Kriek.

"We are not going to stand by and let thousands of animals be sent away in these death ships unchallenged. New Zealand's reputation will suffer badly as SAFE will seek to team up with its international colleagues and take a joint campaign to our main overseas markets.

Sheep on boardThe Minister previously expressed concerns that live sheep exports created unnecessary risk to New Zealand's international reputation as a responsible exporter if something went wrong. New Zealand routinely exported live sheep from Hawke's Bay and Timaru for nearly 20 years until an 11-week ill-fated journey of Australian sheep onboard MV Cormo Express resulted in the deaths of 5000 animals in 2003. The incident made international headlines and raised serious animal welfare questions.

It is understood Saudi Arabia has a shortage of live animals, particularly during the Haj (annual pilgrimage) season when Muslims sacrifice livestock.

ProtestSAFE has started to prepare for an unprecedented international campaign should permission be given to resume the trade but hopes that common sense will prevail and live exports from New Zealand will remain a thing of the past.

"Consumers in Europe are increasingly concerned about animal welfare issues. SAFE will look at a range of campaign activities both here and abroad including a call for a boycott of New Zealand products if all other options fail," says Hans.



The cruelty in a glass of milk




Timaru Herald Live exports: stats don't tell the whole story

Campbell Live  China-bound cows at risk - video

NZ Herald Boom in live cattle exports to China

Radio NZ End to live exports wanted

Timaru Herald Editorial: concern 'overstated'

TV3 Export animal welfare concerns

Stuff Large dairy herd shipment to head to China


ABC Thousands rally in Australia


BBC Australia suspends live exports after revelations


Perth Now - Fremantle council votes to end live sheep exports


NZ Herald: Risks to trade live sheep far too great

TV3 News: Australian exporter welcomes end of ban on live exports 


Waikato Times: Saudi Arabia seeks live exports

Otago Daily Times: Saudi minister wants NZ to re -open sheep exports


Sheep trapped