WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - New Zealand announced Wednesday that it has banned the export of live cows and other farm animals by sea for welfare reasons.
Agriculture Secretary Damien O’Connor said it would take up to two years for the ban to be fully enforced to give those who had invested in the company a chance of transition.
The country temporarily suspended such exports last year after a ship of 5,800 cattle bound for China sank near Japan in stormy weather, killing more than 40 crew members and the animals. The officials had already started checking live exports the previous year.
O’Connor said,the risk to the country’s reputation outweighs any financial gain, as there is no way to protect animal welfare once they leave the New Zealand coast will be ahead of the game if we really want to be the most ethical food producers, “he said.
The value of the country’s live animal exports last year was $ 261 million (US $ 184 million), a threefold increase from the previous year after exporters rushed to circumvent a possible ban. It still only made up a tiny fraction of the country’s total agricultural exports, which generate the largest income from abroad.
O’Connor said,Officials have informed China of plans for the ban but have not yet received a response. He said he was not concerned about offending China, which is New Zealand’s largest trading partner and a major buyer of live cattle.
“It’s not about China. It’s about animal welfare, “said O’Connor.” We have a mature relationship with them and I’m sure they understand our position.
The ban does not apply to live animals transported by air, such as animals. B. Racehorses.
Federated Farmers, a farmer lobby group, said their exporters had adhered to very high animal welfare standards and were surprised by the ban. Still, the group said the transition period would allow farmers tocomply with existing obligations and examine their future options.
Opposition lawmaker Mark Cameron of the ACT libertarian party said the decision was emotional, costly and a “kick in courage” for farmers.
The animal rights group SAFE, which has long requested a ban, welcomed the news. The managing director Debra Ashton said that animals in countries with lower animal welfare standards would no longer suffer. Still, Ashton said it was concerned that hundreds of thousands of cows might still be exported by sea over the next two years and that air exports of animals such as baby chickens and eels would continue.
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