NZ Gov to take a final decision on livestock exports
A final decision on livestock exports will be announced by New Zealand's government in the next couple of months, according to Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor, quoted by Radio New Zealand. The review on the process has started in June 2019 but since then, a tragic accident occurred in September last year, when the Gulf Livestock 1 ship sank with 43 crew members, including two New Zealanders, and almost 6000 cattle on board.
The incident forced the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to halt the livestock exports for a month. "It's one we're working really carefully through. There's obviously an industry involved, the whole rural sector has a focus on this, some support, some don't. So we have to ensure that the people we're trading with and the people involved in the trade ... are kept in the loop and that they're aware of possible changes," Minister O'Connor said.
In the last 6 months, officials have taken into consideration longer-term changes suggested by the reviewers, such as needing more information in Animal Welfare Export Certificate applications. Nevertheless, that does not satisfy animal advocacy group SAFE who wants a total ban on livestock exports from New Zealand, considering that the animals end up in poorer welfare conditions compared to NZ standards.
SAFE's campaign manager Bianka Atlas claims that the government has encouraged livestock exports all through 2020. Figures from MPI show almost 110,000 cows were exported to China in the last year, compared to 39,000 in 2019 and 14,000 in 2018. In the last 6 months, eight other shipments were sent to China. Live sheep exports for slaughter from New Zealand have been banned since 2003.