New Zealand is to look again at the regulations controlling the export of live animals after a public outcry demanding an end to the practice.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said he will look again at the rules following the loss of a live export ship, off the coast of Japan, that was taking animals to China.
New Zealand immediately sus-pended live cattle exports after the sinking of the ship, which had been carrying nearly 6,000 New Zealand dairy cows.
There was only one survivor out of the crew of 43 on board the vessel, which developed engine problems while passing through rough seas created by Typhoon Maysak.
New Zealand has banned exporting livestock for slaughter but does allow animals to be sent overseas for breeding purposes.
During 2019, some 39,489 cattle, 3,919 goats, 2,898 horses and 50 sheep were exported from New Zealand at a total value of $54 million.
New Zealand animal welfare group Safe has organised a public campaign, encouraging people to bombard Mr O’Connor with messages of protest again live exports.
Safe says it is concerned at the treatment the exported animals receive in countries with no animal welfare laws and the methods used when they are eventually slaughtered.
Safe said: “Kiwis are rightfully appalled by the news that 5,867 New Zealand cows have likely drowned at sea.
“Damien O’Connor is yet to signal where the government stands on live export and people deserve to know.
“This is a human and animal welfare disaster. Our thoughts are with the families who are missing their loved ones, but we have to recognise the risk to animals that the live export trade brings.
“As land animals, those cows would have been terrified during such rough seas with no chance of escape. It would have been horrific.”
New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries was already in the midst of a review into the country’s export rules prior to the incident.
It has received more than 3,500 submissions during the nine-week public consultation from people concerned to improve animal welfare and protect New Zealand’s reputation as a responsible exporter.
“We have analysed the sub-missions, following delays due to Covid-19, and are preparing advice for the Minister of Agriculture about the feedback and possible policy options,” it said.