Animal welfare advocates assemble in Napier to protest arrival of live export 'death ship'

Protesters have assembled in Napier to await the arrival of what they call the "death ship".

They're calling for a stop to live exports and say the Anna Marra ship isn't fit to be carrying cattle because of its checkered history.

A passionate few doing what they can to draw attention.

"We know that a ban is imminent. We know that it's coming next year but in the meantime we've still got tens of thousands of cows that are going to be sent to China," Debra Ashton told Newshub.

The Government said live exports will be banned from April next year. But protesters want change now.

They're outside Napier's port waiting for the arrival of a ship - the Anna Marra.

"Essentially it's a death ship and it shouldn't be being used to transport animals at all," Ashton said.

The ship was formerly known as the Awassi Express. In 2017 more than 2000 sheep died en route to the Middle East after suffering from heat stress.

The live export company Emanuel Exports was charged with breaching animal welfare laws and lost its live export license in Australia.

"We've had the same ship which has a really bad animal welfare record come to our port twice in a row," one protester said.

"This animal cruelty has just got to stop in all forms and this is probably the most horrendous form," another added.

Federated Farmers Hawke's Bay president Jim Galloway said it's not just protesters who are concerned about the welfare of animals.

"So are the farmers that sell them because we're not going to send an animal to somewhere it is not treated well or somewhere with poor conditions."

He said there are safeguards for the animals sent from New Zealand.

"On the boats there's New Zealand vets, New Zealand stockmen, and MPI officials check the boats. They aren't allowed to fill them right up to capacity. They are pretty well looked after on the boats."

But animal welfare group SAFE said despite the checks some cattle don't fare well with the voyage.

"Some of the conditions have led to infections, lameness and in the worst cases they have died," Ashton told Newshub.

With the ban still a year away protesters fear a change in Government could see the decision reversed. They're determined to keep protesting till the end of live exports is made final.