Environment secretary Michael Gove is mulling a ban on the live export of animals after Brexit as the government looks to improve animal welfare standards across the UK.
Gove has today launched a call for evidence for a potential ban on the live export of animals for slaughter after Brexit, and will also look at higher standards for live animal movements.
The government said the move forms part of its programme to cement its position as a global leader in animal welfare as Britain leaves the EU and "deliver a green Brexit".
We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world which we are strengthening further by raising maximum sentences for animal cruelty to five years and introducing mandatory CCTV in abattoirs.
All animals deserve to get the respect and care they deserve at every stage of their lives. This call for evidence begins to deliver on our manifesto commitment which aims to control the export of live animals for slaughter once we leave the European Union.
He said he was keen to hear from industry, devolved authorities and charities on "all possible options".
The call for evidence will last six weeks and is intended to gather views on how the government can raise standards of animal welfare during transport after the UK leaves the EU.
It comes off the back of the government's manifesto which said that as Britain leaves the bloc, the government will take "early steps" to control the export of live farm animals for slaughter.
The government said the most recent figures from 2016 show that each year over 4,000 sheep are transported from the UK to continental Europe for slaughter.
British Veterinary Association president John Fishwick said his organisation will be contributing to the call for evidence.
"We believe that production animals should not be transported long distances to the abattoir but should be slaughtered as near to the point of production as possible," he said. "Animals should be transported on the hook, as meat, not on the hoof, as live animals."