Cat­tle ship not do­ing se­cret trip

The Timaru Herald - - Front Page - Samesh Mo­han­lall­han­[email protected]

Claims a live­stock ves­sel built to carry 4000 head of cat­tle has covertly docked in Ti­maru have been rub­bished by port au­thor­i­ties.

The Brah­man Ex­press berthed on Thurs­day night and was not listed on PrimePort Ti­maru’s ship­ping sched­ule.

This led to an­i­mal rights or­gan­i­sa­tion SAFE al­leg­ing the ‘‘se­cret en­try of the China-bound ves­sel into South Can­ter­bury was made to avoid de­tec­tion’’.

PrimePort chief ex­ec­u­tive Phil Mel­hopt con­firmed the dock­ing and said there was noth­ing se­cre­tive about it.

‘‘There’s noth­ing un­usual or covert about this, it’s in plain view. It’s not un­usual cargo to be trans­ported out of Ti­maru.

‘‘It’s all MPI [Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries] sanc­tioned. There’s noth­ing cloak and dag­ger about it.’’

Mel­hopt said it was up to the port’s clients to de­cide if they wanted their ships listed on the ship­ping sched­ule.

‘‘If our cus­tomers don’t want their move­ments to be on a ship­ping web­site it’s en­tirely their call, and that’s some­thing we’ll re­spect. But once it’s in the har­bour, it’s very clear what it is.’’

SAFE me­dia man­ager Will Ap­pelbe said not hav­ing a ves­sel listed on a port’s web­site was only a re­cent de­vel­op­ment and pro­voked sus­pi­cion.

‘‘Up un­til very re­cently pretty much all live ex­port ships would ap­pear on these web­sites.

‘‘I will call into ques­tion the rea­sons why they will not have their ship listed on the web­site. To us, be­tween not hav­ing their ship listed on the web­site and the MPI making it very dif­fi­cult for us to ac­quire in­for­ma­tion about these ship­ments, it is very se­cre­tive.’’

MPI di­rec­tor of an­i­mal health and wel­fare, Dr Chris Rod­well, said there were no an­i­mals on the ves­sel yes­ter­day.

‘‘Load­ing will start once all of the prechecks have been com­pleted. We can’t pro­vide a time­frame for load­ing at this stage as it’ll de­pend when all of the pre-checks have been done.

‘‘The ves­sel must have ad­e­quate feed­stock and water to last the ex­pected du­ra­tion of the jour­ney plus re­serves. The ves­sel must also have ad­e­quate space and sur­faces for stock to move about, lie down and get up without in­jury.’’

He said the an­i­mal wel­fare ex­port cer­tifi­cate would only be is­sued once all con­di­tions, in­clud­ing the MPI’s strict an­i­mal wel­fare re­quire­ments, had been met and fi­nal checks made by MPI vets.

Rod­well said if the cer­tifi­cate was is­sued there would be ex­pe­ri­enced stock han­dlers and a vet present for the voy­age.

‘‘The crew of the China-bound ves­sel have sig­nif­i­cant stock ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

The MPI strength­ened re­quire­ments for the trans­port of stock this year which will en­sure it re­ceives a post-ar­rival re­port in ad­di­tion to a voy­age re­port, he said.

‘‘We take an­i­mal wel­fare ex­tremely se­ri­ously and if we are not fully sat­is­fied with the con­di­tions of the ves­sel or an­i­mals then ap­proval will not be granted and the ves­sel will not be able to leave port with the an­i­mals.’’

The Brah­man Ex­press in port yes­ter­day.

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