New Zealand government introduces new requirements for sea transport of livestock

Rahmeh, later renamed Gulf Livestock 1, in 2019 (Photo: Flett)
Rahmeh, later renamed Gulf Livestock 1, in 2019 (Photo: Flett)

The New Zealand government, through the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), has introduced new requirements for the safe transport of livestock by sea.

The new requirements follow an independent review into the animal welfare assurances the MPI receives from exporters. The review was launched after the tragic loss of the live export carrier Gulf Livestock 1 off Japan in early September.

MPI Director-General Ray Smith says it will introduce several additional requirements for the export of livestock until the incoming government can make decisions about a wider policy review of the trade.

Mr Smith says the review found New Zealand has robust checks and balances in place to ensure the welfare of livestock transported by sea, but the MPI can strengthen parts of the Animal Welfare Export Certificate (AWEC) process.

The country's cabinet introduced an absolute prohibition on livestock shipments until October 23 and a conditional prohibition from October 24 to November 30.

Mr Smith says immediate changes will apply for the conditional prohibition period. They include:

  • Focused maritime inspection of livestock carrier ships entering New Zealand to transport livestock by Maritime New Zealand as an additional safeguard
  • Restricting stocking density on vessels to 90 per cent of current limits to match new Australian standards
  • Increased requirements for voyage reporting, including daily veterinary reports during voyages
  • Increased minimum fodder requirements that ensure at least 20 per cent of feed is available for unplanned delays during the voyage.

Mr Smith says the MPI is considering longer-term changes suggested by the reviewers, such as requiring more information in Animal Welfare Export Certificate applications and reviewing current rules, guidance, and regulations.

During the conditional prohibition period, the MPI will have discretion to consider applications for AWECs for livestock exports by sea.

The review assessed the assurances MPI receives when it considers an application for an Animal Welfare Export Certificate (AWEC), required for the export of live animals, in particular:

  • Carriage by sea as a mode of transport
  • Susceptibility of livestock to harm and distress on the journey when exported by ship.

The MPI will provide advice to the new government once it is formed and then ministers can make decisions.

The wider policy review took place before the loss of Gulf Livestock 1. MPI consulted widely and received more than 3,500 submissions during the nine-week public consultation period.

The submission of the review to the minister was delayed due to priorities related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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