While New Zealand is gearing up to lift a temporary ban on live exports, 25 crew have tested positive for COVID-19 on the livestock carrier Al Messilah, which is docked at Fremantle Port in Western Australia.
The ship, which was due to be loading animals for export, has been delayed while authorities work to get infected crew off the ship and into hotel quarantine.
SAFE Campaign Manager Marianne Macdonald said live export poses too great a risk to New Zealand as the country struggles with containing COVID at its own ports.
“We have worked too hard to stamp out COVID-19 in our community to risk compromising that success by continuing with such a cruel trade,” said Macdonald.
“Live export accounts for less than one percent of our overall exports, at the expense of animals and the safety of Kiwis.”
Livestock exports were temporarily halted following the sinking of Gulf Livestock 1 and the 5,867 cows it was shipping to China. Last month Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced those rules would be relaxed on 24 October, this Saturday.
Just before the election, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern expressed her significant concerns with live export. Macdonald says Ardern should trust her instincts.
“Labour now has a strong mandate to take decisive action on crucial issues like live export.”
“Live export is a risk to animal welfare and our international reputation and ought to be banned before any more damage is done.”