Live now
Start time
Playing for
End time
Listen live
Up next
Listen live on

Livestock exports by sea to cease in April 2023

The Country,
Publish Date
Thu, 29 Sep 2022, 1:44PM
Forty three crew, including two New Zealanders, were lost - as were nearly 6000 head of cattle - when the Gulf Livestock 1 sank in the East China Sea. Photo / Graham Flett / AP

Livestock exports by sea to cease in April 2023

The Country,
Publish Date
Thu, 29 Sep 2022, 1:44PM

Exports of livestock by sea will cease from April next year, following a 2019 review of the trade in response to concerns around the ongoing risk to New Zealand's reputation.

The Bill, which passed in Parliament today, does not cover the export of live animals by air, for which the travel times are much shorter.

Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor said the move will protect the country's reputation for world-leading animal welfare standards.

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

O'Connor said the objective of that review was to provide New Zealanders with an opportunity "to reflect on how we can improve the welfare of livestock being exported".

"Our primary sector exports hit a record $53 billion last year, delivering us economic security.

"That result is built on our hard-earned reputation and this is something we want to protect."

O'Connor acknowledged input from written and oral submitters during the Review and Select Committee process, and the considerable support the Bill received from the public.

He said New Zealand's remoteness meant animals were at sea for extended periods, which heightened their susceptibility to heat stress and other welfare-associated risks.

"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 the tragic sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1 highlighted the real risks.

"The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee supported the ban. There are different opinions on its long-term value among farmers, how it affects New Zealand's commitment to animal welfare, and our image in the eyes of international consumers.

He said the impacts on export flow would be small in the context of total primary sector exports.

"Live exports by sea represented approximately 0.6 per cent of primary sector exports last year."

O'Connor also acknowledged those directly affected by these changes but said he believed the two-year transition period provided sufficient time for business models and supply chains to account for the removal of the trade.

"Having said that our commitment to these high standards has already shown its value where animal welfare discussions have been brought up in Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the United Kingdom and the European Union."

The Bill reinforced and built on New Zealand's reputation as a safe and ethical producer of high-quality food products, he said.

"It protects the reputation of not just our farmers now but, the farmers of the future who want to commit to livestock farming assured that we are the best managers of animal welfare and producers of ethical animal protein for the world."

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you