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PROTECT THE BAN – say ‘no’ to live exports by sea.

04 March 2024

New Zealanders are being urged to say ‘no’ to the return of live exports by sea in a petition jointly supported by the country’s leading animal advocates including SPCA.

PROTECT THE BAN – say ‘no’ to live exports by sea.

The petition is lodged by retired veterinarian, Dr John Hellström ONZM. Dr Hellström served as the Chief Veterinary Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and is the former chair of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. He’s been concerned about live exports for over 30 years, including as a regulator.

“John is an extremely well-respected pioneer in his field. The fact he’s worried enough to be collecting signatures speaks volumes,“ says SPCA’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr Arnja Dale.

“We’ve all seen the pictures –we know the scientific evidence- now it’s time to sign the petition. It was public pressure that achieved the ban, and that same public pressure can stop this Government from reversing it. Animals shouldn’t be treated like this ever again.”

Photographs taken on board live export vessels have circulated the globe showing livestock on long volatile voyages caked in urine and faeces, suffering from heat stress, injuries, and infection. The squalor of these journeys was illustrated just recently with shipments of animals stranded in Australia, and in South Africa where it was the stench that was noticed first.

“Has the government learned nothing from the horrendous scenes over the past month? How about the repeated animal welfare disasters of live exports over the last decade? It doesn’t take an hour of reading, writing and maths to grasp what an awful idea this is,” says Dr Dale.

“We can’t see how a business case stacks up. New Zealand has never repealed animal welfare legislation to increase suffering to animals. Is this the ‘innovation’ the Prime Minster speaks of? This giant leap backwards where once we led the way? It’s completely backward.”

While Prime Minister Luxon’s Government is said to be determined to resume live exports by sea, the United Kingdom and Australia among other Agri-economies have made strides towards phasing out live exports influenced by swelling public sentiment against the barbaric practice.

SPCA’s commissioned survey* shows the majority of New Zealanders don’t want to see live exports by sea return with only 22% of those involved with the farming industry agreeing that the ban should be overturned.

“We’re in regular discussions with farmers around the country and they are deeply uncomfortable with the Government’s plan to repeal the ban,” Dr Dale says.

“The only way to guarantee animal welfare in live exports is to ban them. It’s excruciating that our members of parliament, many of whom love flying the flag for farmers, would willingly subject animals to grossly unsafe conditions while putting the reputation of our $54 billion-dollar wider food and fibre export sector at risk, to say nothing of the embarrassing environmental damage caused by massive ships belching and burping a steady stream of urine and faeces into the planet’s oceans.”

The petition is supported by SPCA together with World Animal Protection, Veterinarians for Animal Welfare Aotearoa (VAWA), Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE), Animals Aotearoa, Helping You Help Animals (HUHA), Animal Save Aotearoa, and End Live Export New Zealand.

It is expected to be presented on the steps of parliament in June.

*See the full survey results here.

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