Earlier this month 42 crew members and nearly 6,000 cows lost their lives when the live export ship Gulf Livestock1 capsized in the East China Sea. It is impossible to imagine the fear that both the crew—which included an Australian vet—and the cows would have felt when they were caught in a typhoon in the middle of the ocean, trapped aboard a sinking ship. The search for survivors has been called off. This horrifying event is not the first live export shipping catastrophe in recent years, nor will it be the last. Live export is a brutal and high‑risk trade that puts the lives of both humans and animals in serious danger and has been defined by a series of disasters. Nearly every year we hear of a live export shipping tragedy. Over 13,000 sheep died when the Queen Hind capsized at port, 3,000 sheep burnt to death off the coast of Somalia and over 28,000 animals and 44 crew members died when a ship sank off the coast of Lebanon.
Ships capsizing, sinking and colliding, along with fires, mechanical failures and rough weather are to blame for the deaths of animals and crew members on live export ships. The most recent incident makes it abundantly clear that the live export trade is not only cruel but also dangerous and unnecessary. Without action to end the industry, those tragedies will continue to occur. The New Zealand Government has suspended all live exports in the wake of this horrific incident. I urge the Australian Government to do the same. For too long humans and animals have suffered the ultimate consequences of the high‑risk live export industry, which will stop at nothing in its pursuit of profit. If this tragedy tells us anything, it is that it is time to end the cruel live export trade for good.