Take action The Bill to ban live export passes its third reading

The Bill to ban live export by sea passes its third reading

With your help, passion, endless emails to the Minister, presence at local protests, petition signatures, generous gifts and persistence – we did it!

The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill to ban Live Export by Sea has passed its third and final reading in Parliament. This means all exports of cattle, deer, goats and sheep by sea will stop on 30 April 2022. 

SAFE has been working tirelessly with activists across the country for decades to end the cruel and unsustainable export of animals by sea and would like to extend a special thank you to the thousands of people who submitted, emailed, donated, protested and spoke out for the animals affected.

Other countries are now also considering phasing out live export, including Australia and the European Union. We are positive that New Zealand’s ban will have a knock-on effect, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of animals from suffering a cruel fate.

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Animals are still at risk until April the 30th – 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.

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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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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.