UPDATE: Live Export Scandal

In response to public outcry and pressure from SAFE, Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy was forced to re-confirm commitment to ban on live export for slaughter.


Back in June, SAFE were notified that the largest cargo of animals ever to leave New Zealand was about to depart from Timaru.

The SAFE Christchurch team drove straight to the port, but were refused access to the ship. However, they were successful in bringing the plight of these unfortunate, terrified animals to the attention of the New Zealand public, in spite of the efforts of the industry to keep it quiet.

Very sadly, we know that 444 animals died before the shipment reached Mexico – 252 on feedlots before they even boarded the ship. The fate of the sheep and cattle that did make it is impossible to track, and the New Zealand government has no way of knowing how many more died during the ensuing 1,000km truck rides in 30-degree heat, or of being certain that the animals will not be slaughtered in conditions that would be illegal in this country.

In a separate live export scandal in July, it was revealed that the government made a secret deal that involved flying pregnant sheep to a farm in Saudi Arabia. The disastrous consequences of this are also now known: 75% of the resulting lambs died from starvation, diarrhea and animal husbandry problems. Since then, the government has refused to release further details. 

While live export for slaughter has been banned in New Zealand since 2003, export for ‘breeding’ purposes has continued and SAFE had heard disturbing reports that the government was considering lifting the moratorium on export for slaughter. 

However, in response to our enquiries, Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy confirmed that he is aware of the strong public opinion on this issue and that the government has no plans to change the current policy on exports for slaughter.  He also confirmed that the recently passed Animal Welfare Amendment Act strengthens protections for animals exported for breeding-purposes, including a requirement that exporters provide a report on the welfare of the animals for up to 30 days after arrival. 

SAFE believes that this does not go anywhere near far enough, and is calling on the government to ban all live exports.

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Email the Government expressing your opposition to all live export.


15 November 2015