Arrival of live export ship in Auckland sparks protests, renewed calls for total ban

A SAFE protest at the live export of cows from Napier to China in August.
A SAFE protest at the live export of cows from Napier to China in August. Photo credit: Supplied/ClareWestonSAFE

An animal rights group is protesting the arrival of a livestock carrier which is here to collect live animals for export, calling for a total ban on the practice.

Protesters from SAFE are unhappy at the arrival in Auckland of the carrier Yangtze Fortune, while the live export trade is under review. 

The ship was expected to arrive at Auckland Port today, before travelling to New Plymouth on Friday to collect live animals for export.

The live export of cattle, sheep, goats and deer for slaughter was banned in 2003.

However, it is still legal to export these animals for breeding purposes, which the Government is reviewing .

SAFE campaigns manager Marianne Macdonald said the shipping of animals overseas undermines New Zealand animal welfare laws. 

"New Zealand has already banned the export of live animals for slaughter, but even animals exported for breeding purposes will eventually be slaughtered in the destination country. 

"These animals will likely be slaughtered by means too cruel to be legal in New Zealand," said Macdonald.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor announced the review of the live export trade in June 2019, following an ABC News exposé that showed New Zealand- and Australian-supplied cows suffering in Sri Lanka. 

He told Newshub that the time had come to rethink the practice and consider whether it was something that fitted within the values of New Zealand.

"When animals leave New Zealand we set conditions that are considered world-class by veterinarians," said O'Connor.

"But there have been incidents over the last few years that highlight the fact that once animals leave New Zealand we have very limited ability to ensure their wellbeing when they reach their destination.

"That's something that's not acceptable to me and I know it's not acceptable to a large number of New Zealanders," he said.

However, SAFE's Marianne Macdonald believes the review doesn't go far enough.

"The Government's review excludes 99 percent of the animals that suffer in the live export industry. The review covers only sheep, goats, deer and cows." 

She said the Government had received thousands of submissions in support of a total ban on live export. 

"They need to listen to the people and announce a ban."

In response to a live cow shipment in August, director of animal welfare Dr Chris Rodwell told Stuff that he understood the issue of live animal exports was one people felt strongly about.

"The Agriculture Minister has asked us to review the process of live animal exports and has clearly signalled that a number of options are being considered, including a conditional ban on the process," he said.

"In the meantime, any applications to export must meet tough requirements around the welfare of animals, and our focus is firmly on ensuring exported animals are well cared for, before, during and after export."