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New Zealand to review livestock exports by sea after capsizing of ship

WELLINGTON, Sept 11 (Reuters) - New Zealand on Friday launched a review of its livestock exports by sea, after a ship that left its shores with nearly 6,000 cows and 43 crew members capsized off Japan last week.

Gulf Livestock 1, which left Napier Port last month bound for China sank after Typhoon Maysak lashed the area with strong winds and heavy seas.

Japan’s coastguards have suspended search operations, after two crewmen were rescued while another died after being found unconscious. Thirty-six Filipino crew members, as well as two New Zealanders and two Australians are still missing.

New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said livestock exporters must obtain an Animal Welfare Export Certificate (AWEC) and meet certain conditions for export before animals leave New Zealand.

The independent review will look at assurances it receives when it considers an application for export of livestock by sea, it said.

The MPI said the current suspension of cattle livestock exports that was put in place after the incident will remain until the review was completed, which is expected to take about a month.

“At the heart of our decision to temporarily suspend cattle livestock exports is a commitment to helping ensure people and animals on livestock export boats are safe,” MPI said in a statement.

“We are working closely with exporters, who have provided assurances that animals currently on pre-export isolation farms are in good condition and well looked after.”

UAE-based Gulf Navigation, which owned the vessel, said in a statement on Thursday that it was carrying cattle destined to join the Chinese dairy farming and breeding programme.

Reporting by Praveen Menon Editing by Shri Navaratnam