May 8, 2009
Negotiations to resume New Zealand’s live sheep trade with Saudi Arabia are underway following a ban on live exports for more than five years.
New Zealand’s Minister of Agriculture, Hon David Carter, has revealed that the deal could be signed within a matter of weeks.
The draft Arrangement follows the same terms as the agreement between Australia and Saudi Arabia which has paved the way for the resumption of live sheep exports from Australia.
New Zealand stopped live sheep exports in 2003 after 5,000 sheep died and a further 43,000 spent two months adrift in the Persian Gulf after the Cormo Express was refused permission to unload.
Since then Saudi Arabia has been negotiating towards a bilateral Arrangement with New Zealand to restore live sheep export.
The Minister has insisted that any future exports will have to meet strict animal welfare standards, as laid out in the Customs Exports Prohibition (Livestock for Slaughter) Order.
WSPA, along with New Zealand’s other animal welfare organizations, is urging the government to decline any requests to export live sheep to Saudi Arabia.
The stark fact is that it is impossible to prevent the inherent suffering of animals transported long distances by sea. Tens of thousands of animals die every year and many more suffer during transport.
Transporting animals long distances involves enormous changes to their whole environment resulting in stress, injury and sometimes death.
The biggest cause of death on the ships results from failure to eat. The animals go from a pasture-based diet to concentrated pellets, which they simply do not recognize as food.
Australia is the world’s largest exporter of sheep for slaughter and exported more than four million sheep to the Middle East in 2006. Almost 37,000 of these animals died from pneumonia, salmonellosis and starvation during the grueling journey
Video evidence collected by animal welfare organizations show Australian sheep in Middle East countries subjected to rough handling and inappropriate transport including being trussed, dragged by a limb, tied onto roof racks or shoved into car boots.
The long distance transport of animals falls well short of providing animals with the level of protection now demanded by most countries and runs counter to New Zealand’s pioneering animal welfare legislation.
New Zealand is well known for its humane sheep farming systems. Allowing live sheep exports to resume will severely tarnish New Zealand’s reputation as a leader in animal welfare and could impact on its agricultural exports.
As New Zealand's second largest export market, the US plays a significant role in the country's economy - each year New Zealand exports $3 billion worth of goods to the US. Because New Zealand has an international reputation as a responsible exporter of agricultural products to protect, Americans have the power to influence the decision on whether live sheep exports in New Zealand resume.
Make your voice heard for thousands of sheep - ask New Zealand to stand firm against the cruelty of live export.