28th Sept 2022 was a day for the diary as NZ Parliament voted to ban live export. Exports of livestock by sea will stop on 30 April 2023. And the reason? Minister O'Connor stated that commitment to high welfare standards "has already shown its value where animal welfare discussions have been brought up in Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the United Kingdom and the European Union. This Bill reinforces and builds on New Zealand’s reputation as a safe and ethical producer of high-quality food products. It protects the reputation of not just our farmers now but, the farmers of the future who want to commit to livestock farming assured that we are the best managers of animal welfare and producers of ethical animal protein for the world,” Damien O’Connor said. They are sure one-up on Australia which continues to export, despite admitting in Export Advisory Notice 2022/20 that "regulatory settings introduced in 2020 reduced, but did not eliminate, the risk of heat stress for sheep exported to the Middle East"
Information obtained through Official Information Act requests by New Zealand’s SAFE for Animals has revealed that as many as 10 times more animals have died shortly after live export voyages compared with during the journey. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) however only publishes data based on the number of cows which die during the journey...as does Australia's equivalent (DAFF the current name!).
SAFE CEO Ms Ashton says that if the cows who died shortly after the voyage were included in MPI’s statistics, the number of deaths, in many cases, would double - a fact that was also evident in a recently released voyage vet report where dead cows on voyage were added to destination deaths rather than voyage deaths to keep the numbers down.
The post-arrival reports obtained by SAFE listed causes of death that included: hemorrhagic septicemia (a bacterial disease), pneumonia, rib fracture, stomach rupture, intestinal bleeding, lung adhesion, necrosis [?no Dx] and suffocation - conditions that highlight the suffering and poor animal welfare conditions on the voyage and after unloading.
Of concern however is that many cows were given grave prognoses at the end of quarantine ie more still would be dead shortly after quarantine making in some cases a likely ten-fold increase in the death rate from "the voyage".
For example, following a shipment that left New Plymouth on 24 September 2021, MPI only reported the three deaths that occurred onboard. However, a post-arrival report SAFE obtained revealed a further 11 cows died during quarantine. An additional 20 cows were given a "grave prognosis" whose condition was expected to deteriorate even with medical intervention.
The NZ National MP, Tim van de Molen claims that cows are "… often coming off the vessels in better condition than they boarded at New Zealand" which either indicates he has no correct information or ...worse!
So, NZ the "world leaders" in animal welfare are precariously maintaining their position purely by lack of transparency. And that should be an indication to any country that good animal welfare is simply not possible in the live export trade...if NZ cant do it...actually no-one can!
Providing more space and reducing journey times to a minimum are needed to improve the welfare of animals during transport, according to recommendations published last week by the European Food Safety Authority.
Irish dairy industry body ICMSA's President Pat McCormack said that while the recommendations certainly have to be given due consideration, a number of them would effectively shut down Ireland’s live export trade and this is simply unacceptable.
Same the world over....live export by sea with good animal welfare is just not possible....and its not the rules that are unacceptable, it is the trade.