NAEAC Annual Report released

Media contact: MPI media phone
Telephone: 029 894 0328

Media release from the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee

The number of animals used in research, testing, and teaching in 2013 was the lowest it’s been since 1997, according to the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) Annual Report released today.

224,048 animals were used in 2013, a decrease of 25.9 percent from the previous year. The rolling three-year average was also down.

Chair of NAEAC, Dr Virginia Williams, says a drop in numbers is always gratifying to see.

“NAEAC is committed to encouraging the responsible use of animals, focusing on the ‘Three Rs’.

“That means replacing and reducing the numbers of animals used in experiments wherever possible, and refining experimental techniques and general husbandry to minimise or eliminate suffering,” says Dr Williams.

“A significant aspect of our activity throughout the year involved supporting efforts to have the Three Rs embodied into practices that use animals.”

Dr Williams says the committee was also kept busy reviewing eight codes of ethical conduct and making submissions on the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill and the Psychoactive Substances Bill.

In addition, NAEAC met regularly with Animal Ethics Committees (AECs) and is anticipating the results from a research project, initiated at the end of 2013, to look into how AECs assess protocols, particularly in relation to cost/benefit analyses.

AECs, whose membership must include three independent nominees from the New Zealand Veterinary Association, the Royal New Zealand SPCA and from local or regional councils, approve any research, testing, or teaching involving live animals in New Zealand.

“AECs must ensure that any cost to the animals must be outweighed by the potential or actual benefits to be gained from the work, and NAEAC has focused on assisting with this decision-making,” says Dr Williams.

NAEAC’s Annual Report is available to read on the MPI website here .


Media contact:
MPI media phone: 029 894 0328

Questions and Answers

What is NAEAC?
The National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) is a statutory body which provides advice to the Minister for Primary Industries and to Animal Ethics Committees (AECs) on the ethical and animal welfare issues arising from the use of live animals in research, testing and teaching (RTT).

More information about NAEAC, as well as previous annual reports, are available on the web at:

Why is it necessary to use animals in research, testing and teaching (RTT)?
Although much work has been done to find alternatives to animal use in RTT, there are still areas where that has not yet been possible, or, in some cases, where non-animal tests have not been validated. It is one of the functions of AECs to require applicants to justify their use of animal-based – as opposed to non-animal-based – research.

What is the most common type of New Zealand animal used in RTT?
Cattle and sheep comprise the highest proportion of animals used in RTT, a reflection of New Zealand’s agricultural focus. The principal purposes of use are for husbandry and veterinary research; basic biological research; and testing the safety and efficacy of animal health products.

What rules oversee RTT in New Zealand?
The use of animals for the purpose of RTT in New Zealand is regulated by Part 6 of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

Users of animals for RTT must ensure that the physical, health, and behavioural needs of those animals are met in accordance with both good practice and scientific knowledge.

How do AECs work?
All RTT projects must be approved by one of the 31 AECs throughout New Zealand.

These committees act within the scope of a code of ethical conduct approved by the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on the advice of NAEAC.

There is a statutory requirement that each committee must include three independent members: a veterinarian nominated by the New Zealand Veterinary Association and not associated with the research institution, a person nominated by an animal welfare organisation (such as the RNZSPCA) and a person nominated by local government.

Another important provision is the requirement for regular independent appraisals by accredited reviewers.

What is a code of ethical conduct?
A document that contains the policies and procedures to be undertaken by the code holder and the institution’s AEC to ensure that the use of animals in RTT is compliant with the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

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