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A New Dawn for Animal Welfare: Celebrating New Zealand's Ban on Livestock Exports by Sea

Saturday 29 April 2023, 5:49AM

By Veterinarians for Animal Welfare Aotearoa

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Monday (01/05/23) marks the day that LIVE EXPORTS BY SEA from New Zealand officially ends. Dr Helen Beattie, Managing Director of Veterinarians for Animal Welfare Aotearoa (VAWA) explains why this is "a new dawn for animal welfare in Aotearoa and globally":

"New Zealand's decision to ban livestock exports by sea is a testament to the nation's commitment to our animals’ welfare. This monumental move elevates the country's status as a global leader in animal welfare and sets a precedent for other nations to follow. In addition to the animal welfare benefits, there are environmental benefits through reduced use of fossil energy in shipping and less effluent being washed directly into the ocean.

"New Zealand's decision to ban livestock exports by sea can serve as a catalyst for change in global agricultural systems, as it will encourage other countries to examine their own practices and regulations. For example, we are pleased to see the Australian Government moving to ban the live export of sheep by sea - this is a step in the right direction and hopefully a move towards a wider ban. We invite other governments to evaluate their animal welfare policies and to progress reforms to improve the lives of animals in their care.

Despite rhetoric to the contrary, since 2015 livestock exports by sea have represented only 0.32 percent of New Zealand’s primary sector export revenue. By eliminating this ‘export segment of suffering’ that has financially benefited only a few, a beacon is lit that can fuel further progress for animal welfare, both locally and globally. This could change the lives of billions of animals for the better.

"VAWA posits that New Zealand’s lead adds momentum to the push for redefining globally how animals are treated in the agricultural sector. This thinking ought to extend beyond the realm of livestock exports and stretch to include thinking on the key concerns within animal agriculture. For New Zealand farming systems, this would include turning our minds to provision of adequate shade, providing comfortable lying areas in winter and ending the use of crates and cages for pigs and poultry, respectively.

"New Zealand's ban is a powerful statement against inhumane practices that affect animals, reaffirming the country's commitment to prioritising animal welfare and sending a clear message that the suffering of sentient beings is no longer an acceptable cost of doing business."

"The ban under Minister O’Connor and the Labour Party’s watch is a resounding victory for animals and a significant step towards a more humane future; both here in Aotearoa and beyond."