MPI has turned down a request from the horticulture sector to declare the recent hail and rainstorms, that decimated many orchards around the country and cost growers millions
of dollars in lost income, as an ‘adverse event’.
This comes in the wake of the sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1 off the coast of Japan and the loss of 42 crew – including two New Zealanders.
Following the sinking of the ship, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) put an immediate ban on any further shipments and commissioned Mike Heron QC, supported by Rear Admiral Tony Parr, to report on the incident.
MPI director-general Ray Smith says, based on the findings of the report, the ministry will introduce several additional requirements for the export of livestock until the incoming government can make decisions about a wider policy review of the trade.
Smith says this will allow the 24,000 cows in pre-export quarantine to be exported, otherwise they would likely have to be slaughtered if interim measures weren’t put in place.
Smith says immediate changes that will apply include a maritime inspection of livestock carrier ships entering NZ, restricting stocking density on vessels to 90% of current limits to match new Australian standards and increasing requirements for voyage reporting, including daily veterinary reports.
Live animal exporters will also have to increase minimum fodder requirements to ensure at least 20% of feed is available for unplanned delays during a voyage.
“We want to ensure the animals are moved safely. The Heron review found NZ has robust checks and balances in place to ensure the welfare of livestock transported by sea, but MPI can strengthen parts of the Animal Welfare Export Certificate (AWEC) process,” Smith says. “We will do that because we’re committed to ensuring crew and animals on livestock export boats are safe.”
MPI is also considering longer-term changes suggested by the reviewers, such as requiring more information in Animal Welfare Export Certificate (AWEC) applications and reviewing current rules, guidance and regulations.
According to Smith, approval for AWECs will not be granted for livestock shipments unless all requirements have been met.
He says MPI is working closely with exporters to ensure the new requirements are well understood.
Livestock exports will be able to continue until the end of November, by which time it is expected that government will have considered a much wider review on the long term future of live animal exports.
“Advice will be provided soon to the incoming government on the wider policy review, which started in 2019, and the independent reviewers’ report will help inform that work,” Smith says.
“Included in the advice will be further consideration of lower stock density rates for shipments.”
The Heron review describes the export of livestock is a “complex international undertaking” involving farmers, exporters, vessel owners, trading partners and others. The review found that while the system is robust, there are changes that can be made now to boost the assurances MPI receives.
Livestock vessels operate according to international rules and certification, but the review says additional New Zealand-based checks by Maritime NZ would provide extra safeguards for vessel safety.
MPI says will provide advice to the new government once it is formed and then ministers can make decisions.
The wider policy review took place before the tragic sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1. MPI says it consulted widely and received more than 3,500 submissions during the 9-week public consultation period.
The submission of the review to the minister was delayed due to priorities related to the COVID-19 pandemic.