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New Zealand government mum on future of live animal exports, as public calls grow for a ban

SAFE (Campaign Manager): As land animals, those 6000 cows would have been terrified during such rough seas with no chance of escape. It would have been horrific.

ANDREA FOX: Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor will not comment on the future of live animal shipments from New Zealand, as public calls grow for the exports to stop after the loss of a large animal carrier in a storm this week. New Zealand has suspended live cattle exports after a ship carrying nearly 6000 New Zealand dairy cows sank off the Japanese coast on Wednesday. Two New Zealanders are among the 43 crew aboard the Gulf Livestock 1, which was en route from Napier to China…

The vessel reportedly developed engine problems and sank in rough seas caused by Typhoon Maysak, the survivor said. New Zealand animal welfare advocate Safe has renewed its calls for live exports to be stopped, urging the public to petition O’Connor… Safe campaigns manager said… “This is a human and animal welfare disaster. Our thoughts are with the families who are missing their loved ones, but we have to recognise the risk to animals that the live export trade brings. As land animals, those cows would have been terrified during such rough seas with no chance of escape. It would have been horrific”…

But the minister declined the Herald’s request for comment, saying “the key focus for everyone right now is on finding out the situation in relation to the crew and supporting their families”… The Ministry for Primary Industries said it was already reviewing New Zealand’s livestock export rules to improve animal welfare and protect New Zealand’s reputation as a responsible exporter… Safe is calling for O’Connor to release the review’s findings before the election…

Safe said the Gulf Livestock 1 had a history of engine problems. During a voyage in July last year, the livestock vessel drifted for 25 hours while being repaired after an engine failure, the group said… Safe campaigns manager said O’Connor needed to front up with his review now. “Kiwis are rightfully appalled by the news that 5867 New Zealand cows have likely drowned at sea. Damien O’Connor is yet to signal where the Government stands on live export and people deserve to know.”

Although New Zealand has banned exporting livestock for slaughter, animals can still be sent overseas for breeding purposes. What worries Safe is how they are treated in countries with no animal welfare laws and how they are eventually slaughtered. MPI statistics for last year show 39,489 cattle were exported, 3919 goats, 2898 horses and 50 sheep. The value of all livestock exported was $54 million in the year ending June 2019. SOURCE…

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