New Zealand bans live animal exports – but not until next year

Read Time:   |  7th October 2022

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The groundbreaking bill follows a tragic accident in 2020, which saw 41 crew members and almost 6,000 cattle killed...


New Zealand has vowed to ban the export of live animals for breeding purposes.

The groundbreaking bill, which was signed into law last week and comes into effect in April 2023, follows a tragic incident that saw 41 crew members and almost 6,000 cattle killed.

In 2020, a Gulf Livestock vessel left New Zealand and headed to China on what should have been a 17-day journey.

However, after getting caught up in a Typhoon, the ship suffered engine problems and ended up sinking just off the Japanese coast.

Fatalities included 25-year-old veterinarian Lukas Orda from Queensland whose body was never found. His family say they cannot ‘move on’ from the incident, and cannot even obtain a death certificate as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) allegedly failed to notify the Coroners Court of Queensland (CCQ).

Residents were also shocked to see the carcasses of dozens of cows in the water, while reports claim there were pregnant cattle on board the ship. The Ministry of Primary Industries denied these allegations.

A similar incident happened earlier this year in Sudan, when more than 15,000 sheep drowned to death after the Ship Badr 1 sank in the Read Sea port of Suakin.

‘Animals have been suffering for years’

New Zealand now has just six months until such an incident will ever happen again – in a move that was welcomed by the Green party.

“This could not have come soon enough,” said the party’s spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick. “Animals have been suffering in live export for years.

According to reports, Agriculture minister Damien O’Connor also celebrated the move. He said: “[The ban] protects the reputation of not just our farmers now, but farmers of the future who want to commit to livestock farming [can be] assured that we are the best managers of animal welfare and producers of ethical animal protein…

“The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill future proofs our economic security amid increasing consumer scrutiny across the board on production practices”.

Will the UK ever ban live animal exports?

Despite the progress in New Zealand, the UK’s efforts toward banning the export of live animals is now in jeopardy.

The government’s 2021 action plan for animal welfare pledged to end the cruel practice under the Animals Abroad Bill – which was intervened by cabinet members earlier this year.

The ban on fur and foie gras imports are now also in question. 

Just last week, a senior Conservative said: “Banning things seems very socialist. Informing people is the way to go.”

Lorraine Platt of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation has slammed the potential back-track, arguing it would be a ‘huge let-down’ for campaigners and millions of animals.

Speaking to The Independent, she said: “Banning live exports and hunting trophies were manifesto commitments, and some people vote on manifesto commitments at elections.”

Want to find out more about the plight of the UK’s animals? Discover how factory farming first became popular

Featured image: Judd Christie Photography via Getty images

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