Last live export ship has sailed


Today the Government reaffirms its commitment to animal welfare and the protection of our reputation as world-leading food producers, with the departure overnight from New Plymouth of the last live export by sea, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

Following a review into New Zealand’s live export sector, the decision was made to cease live export by sea over a two-year transition period ending 30 April 2023.

“In a market where consumers are becoming more and more discerning about ethical and environmental credentials, this Government has moved to ensure that New Zealand’s reputation for ethical trade is not at risk,” Damien O’Connor said.

“Our farmers are world leaders and we must support them to stay ahead of the curve.

“Our position on the map means that the journey to northern hemisphere markets will always be a long one and this brings unavoidable animal welfare challenges. 

“Since 2015, live exports by sea have represented only 0.32 per cent of primary sector export revenue. Whilst we acknowledge the economic benefits for some farmers, we also have to protect the international reputation of our annual $53 billion dollar primary export industry.

“This is why we initiated the review in 2019 and subsequently made the decision to cease live exports by sea by the end of April 2023 - a decision supported by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee,” Damien O’Connor said.

Damien O’Connor said the two-year transition period allowed affected farmers the time to adjust their supply chains and move to different business models. 

“We are in step with our likeminded partners on the importance of animal welfare. Australia has moved to phase-out live export of sheep, and animal welfare standards are bedded into our FTAs with the UK and the EU,” Damien O’Connor said.

“Recent talk of restarting live exports by sea simply ignores the reality that our consumers overseas take issues of sustainability, climate and animal welfare seriously, which is why they’re reflected in our recent FTAs. This decision is part of a number of moves by our Government to protect future export growth.

“We see great opportunity to work instead with our trading partners on lifting the productivity and efficiency of their livestock production systems.

“Food and fibre exports underpin our economy and are key to our economic security.

“As global consumer trends change, we must change alongside them or risk being left behind.

“This Government is committed to ensuring our farmers stay at the forefront of sustainable and ethical trade and that every part of our food production system upholds high standards of animal welfare,” Damien O’Connor said.