New Zealand to cease livestock exports by sea
The passing of a bill to end the export of livestock by sea next year will protect New Zealand's reputation for world-leading animal welfare standards, Agriculture and Trade Minister Damien O'Connor said on Wednesday.
"New Zealand's remoteness means animals are at sea for extended periods, heightening their susceptibility to heat stress and other welfare-associated risks," O'Connor said in a statement.
"Those involved in the trade have made improvements over recent years, but despite any regulatory measures we could put in place, the voyage times and the journey through the tropics to the northern hemisphere markets will always impose challenges," O'Connor said, citing the tragic sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1.
The Panamanian-registered livestock carrier sank in the sea off southwestern Japan on September 2, 2020 due to typhoon. The freighter carried 43 crew members and about 5,800 cattle aboard, with 41 people and all animals believed to have died.
The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill future-proofs New Zealand's economic security amid increasing consumer scrutiny across the board on production practices, O'Connor said.
According to the bill, New Zealand's export of livestock by sea will stop on April 30, 2023.
The government started a review of the livestock export trade in 2019 in response to concerns the trade could be a risk to New Zealand's reputation, the minister said.
New Zealand's primary sector exports hit a record 53 billion New Zealand dollars (30 billion US dollars) last year, statistics show.
"The impacts on export flow will be small in the context of total primary sector exports," O'Connor said, adding live exports by sea represented approximately 0.6 percent of the primary sector exports last year.
The animal welfare amendment bill reinforces and builds on New Zealand's reputation as a safe and ethical producer of high-quality food products, he said.