Take action Government moves to ban live export

Ban on live export by sea announced!

On 14 April 2021, Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor announced a ban on the export of live animals by sea – with a ‘wind down’ period of up to two years.


On 16 July 2021, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) advised SAFE that the export of live animals by sea would be allowed to continue until 30 April 2023.


Please email the Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture to thank them for banning live export by sea and to urge them to implement this ban immediately.


Take Action

Two years is too long – Demand an immediate ban on live export

This email will be sent directly to Rt Hon Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Agriculture Hon Damien O’Connor, and Associate Minister of Agriculture (Animal Welfare) Hon Meka Whaitiri. You will also receive a copy for your records. Emails are public information ‒ if you would like any of your information withheld, please state this in your email.

  • Write your own message in the box below or use the message provided.

Public submissions are open! 

Have your say on live export.


The public has until 2 December 2021 to submit their comments and recommendations to the Select Committee on the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill to ban live export by sea. This is an important next step in the legislative process to ensure that the proposed bill becomes law.

If you’re not sure what to write or are short on time, you can copy and paste the example submission below. Otherwise, please write from the heart in your own words why you think live export by sea should be banned.


Write your submission now. 



Example submission

Tēnā koutou,

Re Animal Welfare Amendment Bill – Live Export by Sea

I am writing to express my full support for a ban on live export by sea. The two-year phase-out period will affect tens of thousands of animals, who will suffer immensely during the lead up to the ban in April 2023. To allow this cruel industry to continue for longer than is necessary could have catastrophic consequences for animals and for New Zealand’s reputation.

I urge the Government to implement a ban at the earliest opportunity to avoid the further suffering of animals and to prevent another tragedy like the sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1.

A ban on live export by sea would ensure that New Zealand is seen internationally as a country that is working towards higher standards of animal welfare.

Ngā mihi,


The lead-up to the ban

On 2 September 2020, the live export ship Gulf Livestock 1 capsized and sunk off the coast of Japan on the way to China with a shipment of New Zealand cows. The 5,867 cows onboard died at sea. 41 of the 43 crew members, including two New Zealanders, also lost their lives. The ship had a history of mechanical breakdowns, and pictures of the appalling conditions for the animals onboard were published by the media. These cows should never have been at sea.

Following the Gulf Livestock 1 disaster, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced that it would temporarily suspend the live export of cows. MPI also launched a review (the Heron Review) into the welfare of animals during sea voyages. Soon after completion of the Heron Review, some new regulations were introduced and live export resumed. The Heron Review was just a pause on business as usual and made no difference for animals exported to countries with lower animal welfare standards.

A broader review of live export was already underway when the Gulf Livestock 1 disaster occurred. This review, announced in June 2019, considered a range of options – from improving existing systems to a complete ban.

On 4 March 2021, Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor announced that MPI had provided its final advice to him and that a paper was with Cabinet for consultation.

On 14 April 2021, Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor announced a ban on the export of live animals by sea. The trade will be phased out over the next two years.

SAFE’s 2019 petition

In 2019, an ABC News exposé found hundreds of New Zealand and Australian cows suffering on Sri Lankan farms. In response, SAFE launched a petition to end live export. 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 16th anniversary of the Cormo Express disaster.

The Cormo Express disaster occurred when Saudi Arabia rejected a shipment of over 57,000 New Zealand and Australian sheep on board the MV Cormo Express, on alleged disease grounds. After two months at sea, around 6,000 sheep died on board. The surviving sheep were gifted to Eritrea, where they were slaughtered in small makeshift abattoirs. This loss of life shocked New Zealand and the world, and led the then Labour Government to suspend the live export of sheep for slaughter. In 2007, a conditional prohibition on the export of cattle, sheep, deer and goats was introduced. This means that live animals cannot be exported for slaughter without the prior approval of the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

There have been no livestock exports for slaughter since 2008. Until 2023, New Zealand will still allow the export of animals for breeding purposes. These animals will spend their lives in intensive farms and are eventually slaughtered, often by methods that are not legal in New Zealand.

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