Concerns raised over arrival of 'high-risk' Chinese live export ship

If successful, the ship was likely to leave Napier early next week.
If successful, the ship was likely to leave Napier early next week. Photo credit: Getty

An animal welfare group is unhappy about the expected arrival of a Chinese owned live export ship into Hawke's Bay and wants New Zealand authorities to turn down its application to carry cattle to China.

The Yangtze Fortune is due to berth at Napier Port this weekend, and has applied to ship 4,700 live cattle.

SAFE said the Department of Agriculture in Australia is investigating Soar Harmony Shipping Limited, who own the Yangtze Fortune, following a serious biosecurity breach. 

It said as a result of the breach, the ship was prevented from exporting 5000 cows to China from the Port of Portland, Australia, on August 23, and was understood to have then started sailing towards New Zealand.

SAFE campaigns manager Marianne Macdonald said the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) needed to contact the Australian Department of Agriculture immediately to request the details of their investigation and reject the company's export certificate application.

"The Yangtze Fortune is a high-risk live export ship embroiled in a biosecurity investigation, but it appears to be business as usual for the New Zealand Government," she said.

"We have written to MPI urging them to contact the Department of Agriculture in Australia to request details of their investigation," said Macdonald.

She said MPI had ignored their concerns of a biosecurity risk and delayed their response to our Official Information Act request into details of recent Animal Welfare Export Certificate applications. 

"Napier Port's website also hasn't specified where the ship will be going after it leaves."

MPI confirmed that it was currently considering the application for 4,700 cattle to be exported to China for breeding purposes.

In a statement to Newshub, MPI director of animal health and welfare Dr Chris Rodwell said any decisions would be made on a case by case basis and applications must satisfy strict animal welfare requirements.

"In addition, we must be satisfied with the facilities and conditions on the vessel and no export will go ahead until the vessel is thoroughly inspected by our vets," he said.

He said MPI was aware of reports from last year about a ventilation issue on the vessel, and from this year about an issue with tracing, unrelated to the vessel.

"However, the exporter has confirmed that the vessel has a current Australian Certificate for the Carriage of Livestock." 

The ship would also be subject to MPI's checks.

"No exports will go ahead until our vets are completely satisfied with animal welfare conditions on a vessel."

If the application is successful, the ship was likely to leave Napier early next week.

A review of live exports was ordered by Agriculture Minister, Damien O'Connor, after an ABC News report on the Sri Lankan dairy scheme in April. 

It involved the shipping of 2,000 New Zealand cows to Sri Lanka and was described as a 'human and animal welfare disaster'.