September 24, 2003



New Zealand Stops Latest Sheep Consignment To Saudi Arabia


New Zealand has halted a consignment of 65,000 sheep to Saudi Arabia, the largest the country is to sent in eight years, saying that the ongoing saga involving stranded Australian sheep be resolved first, its the government said on Wednesday.


New Zealand's Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has rejected the shipment application by a local meat company, on grounds that there was no alternative plan if Saudi Arabia were to reject the sheep. 


It has been a month now that 58,000 Australian sheep remain stranded aboard the Cormo Express in the Arabian Sea after being rejected by Saudi Arabia on grounds of scabby mouth disease. Australian Agriculture officials meanwhile, are trying to manoeuvre the sheep out of the current crisis.


The Saudi importer and the Australian government, have so far met with little success in finding an alternative port to unload the animals. The shipment has been spurned by both United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, despite diplomatic efforts. Things at this junction appear too unsettled for shipment of New Zealand sheep, said White.


New Zealand, where the ratio of sheep to people is 10:1, has seen its sheep shipments fall from 10 a year in the mid-1990s to only one a year.