The single largest export of cows and bulls from New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay set out to China on Sunday 21 November despite the Government saying live animal exports would be phased out. Up to 14,000 animals might be uncomfortably traveling for many days in the purpose-built huge ship.
Al Kuwait is the world’s largest livestock carrier, 189.5 meters long, built as the Ocean Shearer for Wellard and renamed Al Kuwait after being sold to Kuwait Livestock Transport and Trading. It is the 11th livestock vessel to dock at the Napier port since the tragic sinking of Gulf Livestock 1 last year drowning almost 6,000 cows and several crew members. This incident prompted New Zealand’s Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor to announce the phasing out of live animal exports until they will have to cease completely on April 31, 2023.
Debra Ashton, CEO of the New Zealand’s animal protection organisation Safe, said that it was incredibly disappointing that live export ships were allowed to continue operating in Hawke’s Bay: “ We’re seriously concerned that the industry will continue as if nothing has changed, and we’ll see a ramping up of live animal exports over the next 18 months, rather than a winding down.”
Taranaki Animal Rights Group (TARG) often holds protests and vigils at Puke Ariki, but activist Anneka Carslon said this Sunday they had committed themselves to attend an animal rights march in Wellington. She commented about the delay: “I can’t see any explainable reason why they need two years to stop it.”China is the largest buyer of live cows from New Zealand. Since 2005, the country’s exports of these mothers have been mainly shipped to China, Mexico, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. 94% of the shipments to China are dairy cows or breeding animals. A total of 113,000 cows were exported in 2020. They all come from the infamous dairying industry, New Zealand’s biggest greenhouse gases emitter, biggest water polluter, and also a major biodiversity and soil health stressor. A shameful dying industry that was brilliantly exposed by the poignant and revealing documentary Milked, premiered this month.