SPCA New Zealand

The export of farmed animals by sea – a survey of New Zealand opinion

12 February 2024

SPCA has commissioned an independent survey* to understand the sentiment of mainstream New Zealand towards repealing the live export ban.

The export of farmed animals by sea – a survey of New Zealand opinion

When the ban on livestock export by sea finally came into effect in April 2023 after decades of campaigning, people in New Zealand and around the world celebrated this significant milestone for animals.

However, this world-leading animal welfare position is under threat. The Government’s coalition agreement includes a regressive and shameful promise to repeal the legislation and bring back the export of live farmed animals by sea.

We wanted to find out what New Zealand thinks of this decision, so we commissioned an unbiased and nationally representative survey to understand more.


  • Only 19% of respondents agree that the ban should be overturned
  • 83% think we cannot guarantee how animals are treated at the destination
  • Just 12% of respondents trust the live export industry
  • 60% say overturning the ban would damage New Zealand’s reputation for animal welfare
  • 56% of respondents who identify as farmers, or involved in the farming industry, think that livestock export by sea should be banned

It is clear that to overturn the ban would throw away years of progress, disregard public sentiment, put our reputation at risk, and condemn hundreds of thousands of animals to suffering caused by long sea journeys. Live exports are entirely unethical, and we must not allow this cruel practice to return.

SPCA, alongside so many animal advocates, worked tirelessly for decades for the ban - using the overwhelming evidence that proves live export by sea cannot be done humanely, no matter what standards are in place.

There are a significant number of factors unable to ever be controlled by the industry, which mean the welfare of animals on board live export ships will always be compromised. Whether this is political tensions affecting water passage, such as we have seen this month with 15,000 animals kept on board a ship for well over a month after they were unable to pass through the red sea, to weather disasters such as the typhoon which capsized the Gulf Livestock 1 vessel in 2020, killing 41 crew members and all 5,867 cattle on board.

We know that New Zealanders, as well as overseas consumers and trade partners, are rightfully appalled by live exports. SPCA will stand alongside our supporters and other organisations to make this clear all over again – we will speak up for as long as it takes.

Watch this space for actions you can take soon. In the meantime, you can email your local Member of Parliament or the Minister responsible for animal welfare, Andrew Hoggard, at any time to let them know your view of livestock export by sea.

Survey information: Camorra Research were commissioned to undertake an independent, robust and representative analysis of sentiment towards the live export industry among the New Zealand population. They surveyed 993 respondents weighted to New Zealand Census data. Read the research report here.

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