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End the cruel live export trade

Our work Animals in Aotearoa End the cruel live export trade

The cruel live export trade

New Zealanders take pride in valuing animal welfare. In New Zealand, our law states that animals are sentient. Because animals are individuals able to feel emotions such as pain and joy, we have standards for how they should be treated.

In 2003, we achieved a ban on the live export of animals for slaughter. However, loopholes in the law mean that millions of our animals are still being sent overseas alive. It is time to close the loopholes and end live export for good.  

It’s not just cows who are suffering. A baby chick is selected for export at only one day old. Once she hatches from her egg, she expects to see her mother. Instead, she is placed in a box with thousands of other chicks. She is then flown overseas, to an intensive farm – she is then barely two days old.

After her time in an intensive farm, she may be slaughtered using standards lower than those in New Zealand. Most countries that New Zealand exports farmed animals to do not require stunning before slaughter. This means that New Zealand animals sent overseas may have their throats slit while they are still conscious.

Take Action

Demand a ban: live exports simply aren’t worth the risks

In the wake of the human and animal disaster that occurred when nearly 6,000 cows and 41 crew lost their lives with the sinking of the live export ship Gulf Livestock 1, one thing is clear: We must end the brutal, dirty live export trade once and for all.

The Ministry for Primary Industries Live Export Review

MPI has been reviewing the live export trade since June 2019. We are still waiting for the results of the review, over a year later.

On Friday 11 September, in response to the Gulf Livestock 1 disaster, MPI announced the launch of yet another review – this time into the welfare of animals while they are on board live export ships. This new review is just a pause on business as usual and won’t make a difference for the animals when they arrive in countries with lower or no animal welfare standards.

SAFE is calling on the Government to release the results of both reviews before the October election so that New Zealanders can exercise their democratic right and hold elected leaders to account at the ballot box.

SAFE’s petition

In 2019 SAFE launched a petition to end live export after finding out about a harrowing animal welfare and human disaster in Sri Lanka involving New Zealand-sourced animals. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our volunteers and staff, we collected over 30,000 signatures.
We presented our petition to Parliament in August 2019 on the sixteenth anniversary of the Cormo Express disaster, when six thousand sheep died on board a live export ship. This loss of life shocked New Zealand and the world and led the then Labour Government to ban the live export of cows, sheep, goats and deer for slaughter.

Live export ships

This year, twelve live export ships have left our shores, each filled with thousands of New Zealand animals. There are significant risks to the welfare of farmed animals transported on board ships, especially over long distances. The unnatural diet, rough seas, high stocking densities and heat stress all have a negative effect on these animals, with some suffering injuries and others dying on board.
Cows selected for live export are usually taken from green pastures in New Zealand. They are sometimes shipped while pregnant, confined to small pens. They are typically transported across the Pacific Ocean, where they could be thrown about in rough seas. Once the journey is over, they may be taken to intensive farms to give birth, where they are then kept for years to be milked.

Conditions overseas 

Animal exports can cross many territorial boundaries, and our Government admits it has no power to enforce New Zealand welfare standards for animals taken overseas. 

In February 2019, the European Union voted to ban all live exports of animals to countries that do not meet the EU’s animal welfare transport standards.

Little is known about where New Zealand animals end up and what standard of care they receive once they disembark live export ships or planes. In the 2019 exposé in Sri Lanka, where hundreds of cows were found sick and dying, it was revealed that the lives of animals after they have been exported could involve high levels of suffering.

Australian live export corporation Wellard sold the Sri Lankan farmers a dream, and these farmers are now struggling to keep the animals alive. The farmers say they haven’t received the vital support they were promised.

New Zealand animals are put at risk when they are exported to countries with lower animal welfare, transport and slaughter standards than we have in New Zealand.

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Animals need an independent body that enforces animal welfare.

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As a charity, SAFE is reliant on the support of caring people like you to carry out our valuable work. Every gift goes towards providing education, undertaking research and campaigning for the benefit of all animals. SAFE is a registered charity in New Zealand (CC 40428). Contributions of $5 or more are tax-deductible.