In an interview with RNZ Checkpoint yesterday, Dr John Hellstrom ONZM described his first-hand experience seeing New Zealand cattle suffer overseas which, in his view, meant a ban on live export is necessary.
Dr Hellstrom was formerly Chair of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), and once served as Chief Veterinary Officer to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Most recently he played a role on the winter grazing task force.
SAFE Campaign Manager Marianne Macdonald says his comments carry significant weight.
“For someone with Dr Hellstrom’s mana and credentials to make such a statement is a big deal,” says Macdonald. “He makes a persuasive case to ban live export.”
The Ministry for Primary Industries has been reviewing the live export trade since June last year. The export of live cows is currently suspended following the capsizing of Gulf Livestock 1 last week, which was carrying 5,867 cows to China.
Yesterday Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor told NZ Herald he’s concerned the conditions on livestock vessels aren’t up to the standards that he’s been led to believe.
“MPI’s live export review has dragged on for over a year. We’re seriously concerned the Agriculture Minister is still unaware of the realities on livestock vessels,” says Macdonald.
“We know that animals suffer on livestock vessels. The voyage reports on MPI’s website even lists deaths attributed to heat stress.”
“As Dr Hellstrom has rightly pointed out though, it’s how these animals suffer in their destination country that’s of most concern, and why we must ban live exports.”
SAFE is New Zealand’s leading animal rights organisation.
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