Earlier this week, Gulf Livestock 1, a live export ship carrying human crew and 5800 cows, capsized near Japan during Typhoon Maysa. One crew member on the ship that was sailing from New Zealand to China has been rescued, but the rest of the crew and cows are lost at sea.
This isn’t the first time animals and humans have suffered for the live-export industry – and it will almost certainly not be the last. Human and animal deaths at sea are just one of the grave risks live export poses, and the only way to stop these tragedies from occurring again and again is for governments to ban live export for good. Frightened animals who are subjected to live export endure extraordinary suffering for several days when they’re crammed into barren containers without fresh air, food, adequate water, or veterinary care and forced to marinate alive in their own waste, often while pregnant. They’re still confined to small pens on the voyage, and on arrival, they face life in the concrete confines of a factory farm – surely, the saddest place to give birth. All these abuses would be illegal in most countries.
The New Zealand government has now suspended the live cattle exports, and PETA Australia has written to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, calling for the government for a permanent ban all live-animal exports. The country’s 2003 ban on the export of animals for slaughter abroad has dangerous loopholes that remain in current laws, allowing animals to be shipped alive for breeding overseas.
Transporting live animals thousands of kilometers in such conditions is also a major cause of the spread of zoonotic diseases around the globe, like foot-and-mouth diseases and COVID-19, making live-export ships a potential breeding ground for the next pandemic.
Gulf Livestock 1 capsizing is a tragedy, but one that should never have occurred. Live export is dangerous and cruel, and must be banned.
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