In the East China Sea, the livestock transport vessel Gulf Livestock 1 capsized and wrecked in a severe storm. 43 crew members and nearly 6,000 calves were killed. One crew member could be rescued. The ship was en route from New Zealand to China with nearly 6,000 cattle.
Gulf Livestock 1 sent an emergency call on Wednesday to the west of Amami Oshima Island as a typhoon ravaged the area with high winds and heavy seas. The crew consisted of 39 men from the Philippines, two from New Zealand and two from Australia.
Gulf Livestock 1 departed Napier, New Zealand, on August 14 with a cargo of 5,867 cattle bound for the port of Jingtang in Tangshan, China. The trip was expected to take about 17 days, New Zealand State Department officials told Reuters.
The 139 meter long Panamanian flag vessel was built in 2002 and the registered owner is Amman-based Rahmeh Compania Naviera SA. The cargo of young cows was exported by Australasian Global Exports headquartered in Australia, which specializes in live animal exports and has its own quarantine facilities in China.
New Zealand animal rights organization SAFE said in a response that the disaster once again highlights the risks posed by live animal exports. “These cows should never have been at sea with such weather forecasts,” says campaign leader Marianne Macdonald.
According to data from China's customs, China has imported more than 46,000 head of cattle from New Zealand so far this year, mainly to supply the increasing number of Chinese dairy farms.
Last year, New Zealand restricted all its live cattle export trade after it was found that thousands of animals exported from New Zealand and Australia died in transit. The New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) now said that applications for export permits for live cattle have been temporarily halted after the wrecking of the livestock transport vessel. It is not yet clear when that will resume.