A young dairy calf with ID ear tags peers through the bars of a sale yard enclosure.

It’s official: live animal export by sea is now banned in New Zealand!

Hundreds of thousands of cows and their unborn calves will be safe from live export cruelty thanks to New Zealand's decision to bring the country's live export trade to an end.

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated May 1, 2023

In incredible global progress for animals, New Zealand/Aotearoa has become the first country to ban the export of animals by sea — with new legislation coming into effect from Sunday April 30th, 2023.

The decision will spare hundreds of thousands of cows and their unborn calves from the horrors of live export and was fueled by the tireless advocacy of advocates at SAFE For Animals NZ who have been campaigning on behalf of the country’s live export victims for many years.

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New Zealand banned the export of animals for slaughter in 2008 but a legal loophole meant that hundreds of thousands of vulnerable pregnant dairy cows could still be exported.

The trade not only condemned them to lives of deprivation and suffering in destination countries but subjected them to risky and lengthy sea journeys. These ever-present dangers made global headlines in 2020 with the tragic sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1, which saw 5,867 dairy cows and 41 human crew members perish at sea. The ship was on route to the Port of Jingtang in Tangshan, China, when it ran into a typhoon and was reportedly hit by a wave capsized.

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A snippet from The Guardian reads
The Gulf Livestock 1 disaster made headlines around the world in 2020.

Shortly after this disaster, New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries suspended live cattle exports, and in September 2022 a bill to ban the live export of animals by sea was passed.

Disasters are part of the inherent risk of live export for any animal, from any country. And it’s why we will continue as fervently as ever to convince our government and others around the world to replicate New Zealand’s decision and prioritise the wellbeing of animals over commercial interests.

Thanks to this courageous and compassionate leadership, Aotearoa’s legacy for animals has again set a precedent for the rest of the world to live up to.

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.
Damien O'Conner
New Zealand Agriculture Minister

Your voice is still needed

This ban will prevent the unnecessary suffering of at least 135 thousand cattle and countless unborn calves exported from New Zealand to China each year and will serve as a model for other countries to follow. Disappointingly, opposition political parties in New Zealand have pledged to reverse the ban if they win the 2023 election in October.

SAFE has made it easy to speak up. Head to their website to send a strong message to opposition parties and key decision makers that any decision to overturn the ban would not only be cruel to animals but would be bad for New Zealands international reputation.

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