Ship sail

Demonstration planned as cattle ship Al Kuwait sails to Timaru port

The cattle ship Al Kuwait in the port of Timaru in December 2021.

JOHN BISSET/Stuff

The cattle ship Al Kuwait in the port of Timaru in December 2021.

Another protest is planned in Timaru for the return of the purpose-built cattle ship Al Kuwait, which was due to arrive on Sunday.

The 189.5-metre vessel is licensed to load up to 6,748 live cattle bound for China according to the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), which will take Timaru’s cattle export count to nearly 130,000. since the beginning of 2015.

The protest will take place at noon on Sunday at the corner of Stafford and Strathallan streets following a protest against the ship’s visit in August 2021. This will be the seventh protest since November 2020 against the export of live cattle.

Protest organizer Lyn Mansel said the reason for the protest remained the ramping up of live cattle exports before it was banned in April 2023 and the number of ships currently passing through.

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“It feels like they (the government) are not cutting exports but accelerating,” Mansel said.

“We are not convinced that they will keep the promise they made for next year. Next year is an election year and things could change.

“We are asking the government to stop the export now. We want them to remember that we are not going to leave and that we will wait and watch the ships arrive.

The MPI said 43,669 head of cattle were exported through Timaru in 2021, more than double the 2019 total and more than 12,000 more than in 2020. Previously released figures show that total cattle exports of Timaru was 31,362 in 2020; 20,044 in 2019; 7349 in 2018; 3068 in 2017; 13,124 in 2016; 4394 in 2015.

Lyn Mansel demonstrates what she believes is the place cattle have on live export vessels during a protest against the practice in April 2021.

JOHN BISSET/Stuff

Lyn Mansel demonstrates what she believes is the place cattle have on live export vessels during a protest against the practice in April 2021.

An MPI spokesperson said cattle are a mix of dairy and beef – all for breeding purposes, not slaughter.

“MPI does not collect information on the origin of livestock,” the spokesperson said.

“It’s best to ask exporters this because it’s a business decision between sellers, buyers and export agents.

“The Al Kuwait will likely leave Timaru on February 10, but the vessel will not be loaded until MPI has assessed all animal welfare requirements, and the vessel will only depart once MPI has verified compliance and issued an animal welfare export certificate.”

Aerial view of Al Kuwait docked at PrimePort in Timaru in August 2021.

JOHN BISSET/Stuff

Aerial view of Al Kuwait docked at PrimePort in Timaru in August 2021.

The spokesperson said the animals are thoroughly checked by MPI veterinarians during isolation prior to export. Checks include general health and body condition score.

“The export of livestock for breeding is a regulated activity under the Animal Welfare Act, with several stages of strict requirements that must be met before an export can take place.

“No live animal exports can take place until we have carried out a post-loading review to ensure that we are fully satisfied with the conditions on board. In the country of destination, government authorities will also inspect the vessel.

“People experienced in handling animals must be on board. For sea voyages, the minimum requirement is at least one experienced herder per 1400 cattle, in addition to the ship’s crew.

Felicity Penno at the protest against live animal exports in August 2021.

Valentina Bellomo / Stuff

Felicity Penno at the protest against live animal exports in August 2021.

A veterinarian must also be on board.

Covid-19 protocols mean the crew of the Al Kuwait do not leave the ship while in port. Protective equipment and prescribed social distancing are required when MPI inspectors and vets board the vessel, and this is also required of the crew.

MPI said a new requirement came into effect on December 1, 2021, that within 30 days of being transported from the farm to pre-export isolation (PEI), the recognized agency must reject animals whose body condition score is less than 4 on the 1-10 dairy scale. .