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More Research Is Needed After Livestock Transport by Sea Amendments - National Humane Education Society

November 13, 2022

Paws Up!

Animal welfare organizations, concerned citizens, the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture are working together to improve the humane transport of livestock by sea from the U.S. mainland to the island.

Animal welfare advocates in Hawaii have been working tirelessly to raise awareness concerning the lack of regulations and care livestock receive in transit from the mainland to the island. Sadly, the well-being of animals used for food—goats, sheep, pigs, cows, and chickens, especially in concentrated farming facilities—is overlooked and their sentience dismissed, but those who have spent time with these remarkable creatures can attest to their unique expressions of emotions. Have you heard a chicken purr? When calm and happy, chickens make a purring sound like a cat. Other farm animals demonstrate their ability to feel emotions and form bonds with their caretakers at animal sanctuaries or individuals who have farm animals as companions. These humans have been fortunate enough to witness animals displaying positive emotions of playfulness, excitement, or contentment.

Livestock in Hawaii

In 2019, twenty-one cows tragically suffocated while being transported to Hawaii. This incident pushed legislators to address the lack of regulations in Hawaii to protect livestock during transport. House Bill 1898 was introduced in January 2020, but it didn’t move forward and died amidst more pressing legislation during the pandemic.

Through the persistence of the animal welfare organization, Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), other concerned citizens, and the support of the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, amendments to Hawaii’s Administrative Rules 4-16 were brought before the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA). The amendments addressed providing space, water, shade, and a “last on and first off” policy for animals being shipped by sea. The HDOA met on October 11, 2022 (discussion starts in the video at 2:42:00) to hear additional comments and vote on the proposed amendments.

Unfortunately, the amendment to provide shade for the containers housing animals to reduce heat stress did not pass. It was determined that providing shelter would fall under the Department of Transportation, not the harbor, and insufficient research exists on what temperature is too hot for cattle. One of the members of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture commented that one of the islands has no shade, and the cattle residing there in the sugar cane fields seem okay. Dr. Jason Moniz, Program Manager of the HDOA’s Animal Disease Control Branch, shared the need for more research to help keep animals comfortable and safe during shipment. For instance, Dr. Moniz commented that no one had researched the temperature inside a container placed in the shade versus the temperature inside a container not in the shade.

The amendments that passed ensure containers are stacked in such a way as to provide maximum ventilation for the animals and require carriers to provide shipment declarations to help with transparency and insight when casualties do occur. While the amendments that passed may seem small, they have started a conversation that will hopefully fuel more efforts to increase the humane standards of care for the transportation of livestock.

Take Action: Please support rules and regulations to increase the standards of care for all animals.

To create a more humane society for generations to come, it is imperative that we, as a society, examine existing or lacking animal welfare laws to create better standards of care for all animals. Although progress for animals, especially livestock and those used for research/testing purposes, continues to be slow, it should not deter us from continuing to make a better world for them.

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3 responses to “More Research Is Needed After Livestock Transport by Sea Amendments”

  1. Tonya Morrison says:

    Please take action to help ease the suffering of these precious farm animals.

  2. Janice Vlcek says:

    These animals need to have humane conditions as they are transported. Just because they are going to slaughter it is important to me that they have humane treatment. No person would endure these conditions. Keep fighting for these animals…they are worth it.

  3. Paula Long says:

    All food born animals should be treated humanely and with compassion. The government needs to step up and follow up an treatment of these animals

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