New Zealand has suspended live cattle exports after a ship carrying nearly 6,000 animals sank off the Japanese coast on Wednesday, with the fates of more than 40 crew members still unknown.
The vessel, Gulf Livestock 1, was destined for China when it reportedly developed engine problems and capsized after being hit by a wave in Typhoon Maysak, according to a crew member, who is currently the only known survivor.
A second survivor is said to have died shortly after being pulled from the water by the Japanese coastguard.
The Gulf Livestock 1 left New Zealand on 14th August with 5,867 cattle on board, for a journey that should have taken 17 days, New Zealand’s foreign minister told Reuters.
The country stopped exporting livestock for slaughter in 2016 but animals are sold overseas for breeding purposes.
According to a statement published by The Guardian, New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries said it has: ‘temporarily suspended consideration of cattle livestock export applications after a vessel transporting stock from New Zealand to China went missing off the coast of Japan. PMI wants to understand what happened on the sailing of the Gulf Livestock 1.’
The vessel is owned by UAE-based Gulf Navigation and managed by German company MC-Schiffahrt, which confirmed in an online statement that it had lost contact with the vessel on 2nd September and a distress signal had been received.
According to media reports, the ship had a history of mechanical problems. In December, an inspection report from Indonesian authorities, published on Equasis, highlighted problems with propulsion and auxiliary machinery.
Meanwhile, a report from the Australian government noted its departure for Indonesia in June 2019 was delayed due to stability and navigation issues. It was also detained in May 2019 due to issues with navigation systems, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
Image: Bahnfrend CC BY-SA 4.0