An overladen ship crammed with 15,800 sheep capsized on Sunday off Sudan’s Red Sea coast, just days before Ban Live Exports International Day of Awareness, taking place today. The livestock vessel was heading from Sudan’s port of Suakin to Saudi Arabia when it ran into trouble in the Red Sea, resulting in the deaths of the majority of the animals on board.
SAFE CEO Debra Ashton said the sinking is just another tragic reminder of the urgency of a total ban on live export.
“We’ve seen tragedy after tragedy involving animals on live export ships,” said Ashton.
“This is not the first ship to sink in international waters, but it should absolutely be the last.”
The New Zealand Government announced earlier last year that live exports by sea will be banned in Aotearoa from 30 April 2023.
However, rather than winding down, New Zealand cattle are still being shipped to China in record numbers. Figures from the Ministry for Primary Industries show 134,722 cows were exported from Aotearoa last year, compared with 109,921 in 2020 and 39,269 in 2019.
The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, which will give effect to the live export ban, is moving to the third reading in Parliament. The Bill divided Parliament’s Primary Production Select Committee, with National and Act members opposing a total ban. The Act Party has committed to overturning the ban if elected to Government.
“Members’ on both sides of the house need to understand that this is a high risk trade. As is evidenced by this latest tragedy, these voyages are extremely dangerous. Even if a ship arrives at its destination, we cannot ensure the welfare conditions for animals, as there are no laws to protect them once they arrive in China.”
“The Government’s proposed ban shows reform is possible. It is imperative New Zealand stands firm as a leader in protecting animals, and follows through on a total ban on live export.”