Primary Industries

Chinese ship stopped for biosecurity breach

A Chinese ship prevented from picking up almost 5000 cows from Perth due to biosecurity concerns is headed for Napier where it's hoping to collect thousands of live animals for export.

The Australian Department of Agriculture is investigating the owners of the ship, the Yangtze Fortune, following a biosecurity breach that stopped it from docking in Perth on 23 August.

Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE) said the ship had a history of problems and it was urging the Ministry for Primary Industries to investigate and decline the export certificate application.

"If the ship wasn't good enough for Australia, why is it acceptable for New Zealand? MPI is risking New Zealand's animals, reputation, and possibly creating a biosecurity risk. They must decline this ship's export certificate application," SAFE campaigns manager Marianne McDonald said.

MPI was considering an application from the vessel to pick up 4700 cattle in Napier for export to China early next week, MPI animal health and welfare director Chris Rodwell said.

"We are aware of reports from last year about a ventilation issue on this 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 vessel will also be subject to our own stringent checks.

"To be clear, no exports will go ahead until our vets are completely satisfied with animal welfare conditions on a vessel," Dr Rodwell said.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor ordered a review of New Zealand's live export trade in June after ABC News exposed the plight of New Zealand cows suffering and dying in Sri Lanka.

Since then, MPI had approved an application to export 5400 cattle aboard Yangtze Fortune's sister ship, Yangtze Harmony in August. This was the largest shipment of live cattle from New Zealand in two years.

"So far this year New Zealand has exported more cattle than were exported in total in 2018. That is a sign this government is not taking their review into live export seriously," McDonald said.

"Strengthened requirements" for exporters meant they must provide a report on the condition of the animals 30 days after their arrival at their destination, MPI said.

"Since the last shipment took place, and while a review is underway, we have gone even further and now require additional assurances from exporters on the post-arrival welfare of animals, including information on their final point of destination and travel arrangements," Dr Rodwell said.

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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