SPCA New Zealand
Animal Advocacy

Position Statements

Live Export of Farmed and Wild Caught Animals by Sea and Air

SPCA opposes the live export of any farmed or wild-caught animals by sea.

In April 2023, a ban on the live export of cattle, sheep, goats and deer will come into force. SPCA advocates for this ban to extend to any farmed animal.

There are multiple factors that impact upon the welfare of exported animals before, during and after the ship voyage; these include the conditions on the ship and the lack of control over their treatment at the destination country, as well as numerous changes in environment that the animals are forced to undergo over several weeks or months that can cause fear and anxiety. Research lists the major stressors on ship as exposure to clinical diseases, heat stress, high stocking density and high ammonia levels, and other stressors such as noise, motion sickness, changes in lighting patterns and novel environments.

The long-distance transportation of livestock overseas cannot be justified due to the multiple significant harms that animals are exposed to throughout the duration of the export. It is generally accepted that the longer and more complex the journey an animal makes, the greater the risk to its welfare.

SPCA is also concerned with the potentially concerning treatment of the animals once they reach the importing countries. Once the exported livestock reach their port of destination, the animals are outside the control of New Zealand laws and regulations. Even if importing countries have animal health and welfare requirements, these are often different to what the public in this country expects for New Zealand animals.

SPCA opposes the live export of any animal (not just farmed animals) for slaughter.

New Zealand exports wild-caught animals alive by air, including crayfish, crabs, finfish, and the endangered longfin eel.

Research has demonstrated that aquatic animals, including crayfish, are highly intelligent, sentient beings, capable of suffering and many other complex emotions. SPCA advocates that it is important that all sentient animals are afforded similar protections from harm. At present, certain animals are exempted from the requirements of Animal Welfare Export Certificates, meaning there is no oversight of the welfare of exempted animals when they are being exported and there is no oversight of any New Zealand animal once they reach their destination.

The slaughter of these animals can take place in New Zealand. The export of carcasses has proven to be a successful industry, with this country exporting frozen and chilled meat from a variety of animals around the world for many years. The export of any animal for slaughter is entirely unnecessary thanks to the refrigerated carcass trade.

SPCA advocates for the further development of the chilled and frozen meat-only trade and the expansion of the export of animal genetics through semen and embryos.

SPCA is concerned about the live export of farmed animals by air for breeding.

Farmed animals other than livestock are exported regularly, including the global trade in day-old chicks and trade in high-quality breeding animals.

Handling, loading, transporting and unloading of animals is known to have substantial effects on their welfare. It is generally accepted that the longer and more complex the journey an animal makes, the greater the risk to its welfare.

SPCA does not support the export of livestock for breeding purposes due to the significant animal welfare concerns raised through long-distance live transport and urges the government to focus instead on expanding New Zealand’s trade in the export of animal genetics. This will be beneficial for both the animals concerned and the reputation of our country.

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