Last live animal export shipped as ban takes effect

New Zealand's last exports of livestock by sea have been completed and live exports have ceased, the Agriculture Minister said on Friday, as it fully implemented a ban on export shipments of animals on the grounds of their welfare.

The Government announced in 2021 shipping animals offshore, largely for building herds in trading partners like China, would be halted but farmers would be given two years to transition out of the profitable export business.

"Our position on the map means that the journey to northern hemisphere markets will always be a long one and this brings unavoidable animal welfare challenges," Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said in a statement announcing live exports had ceased.

Live exports by sea have contributed about 0.32 percent of New Zealand’s primary sector export revenue, which includes farming and mining, since 2015.

The total value of live animal exports in 2022 was $524 million.

In 2020, the Government said it was reviewing live exports when it introduced interim measures following the capsizing of a ship bound for China that killed nearly 6000 cows and 41 of the 43 crew members.