Cattle ship not doing secret trip
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.