The families of the missing crew members aboard the missing Gulf Livestock 1 are continuing their search - amid claims of potential signs that survivors might be holed up on a remote island group.
New Zealanders Lochie Bellerby and Scott Harris are among 40 people not found after the Gulf Livestock 1 sank in the East China Sea during typhoon conditions in September.
Australian media have reported there are fresh hopes more of those onboard might have survived, with claims of potential signs of life on the Tokara Islands which are off Japan's coastline.
Today, the Bellerby family said in a statement they were hopeful of there being "signs of life" following the sighting of the debris.
"The debris was found following a privately funded search of the Tokara Islands, a chain of 12 small islands of which seven are inhabited.
"It [the debris] includes a canopy of a Viking life-raft, a life ring, a single blue boot, several deceased cows, and three orange barrels strapped together."
The family who had been contributing to fund a private search stated to date it had cost about $54,000 of donated money on fixed-wing flights and $81,000 on helicopter flyovers.
The search by satellite would continue and, this weekend, a privately-funded aircraft search would occur at Amami Islands by helicopter.
Both of the Kiwis were in constant contact with their parents during the voyage.
Lucy Bellerby was told by her son the conditions were "extremely rough" and had the vessel on a tilt of 35 degrees.
Harris' mother, Karen Adrian, said last month her son texted her often and said swells were between 12 and 20 feet at times during the typhoon.
"We are doing our level best to get some action and to hang on; they can survive this, they can do it," she said.
"They're strong young men, if anybody can do it those boys can do it."
After failed attempts at seeking federal assistance to fund the search, the family and friends of two missing Australians, William Mainprize and Lukas Orda, have asked the general public for help.
Mainprize's close friend Harry Morrison launched a GoFundMe page, which has since raised a total of $127,431, with donations coming from New Zealand, Australia, Germany, the UK and the Philippines.
Morrison is appealing to the public to donate so the private search and rescue mission can continue.
"We're finding a lot of debris form the boat, we've found two dead cattle on an island," he told nine.com.au.
"We've found parts of a life raft, we've found life rings, we've found life jackets."
In another interview with the NCA NewWire, Morrison said: "There are hundreds of uninhabited islets and islands in Japan that the crew could have been washed to and simply be waiting for us on.
"This is not a search for closure. In our minds, this still remains an active search to rescue the missing crew.
"We cannot forget there are still four life rafts and one lifeboat from the ship still unaccounted for and we're appealing for anyone who has the means to donate and join the search with us."
Morrison said he was "disgusted" the Australian government and Japanese coast guards were not looking for the missing crew members.
"Will is just a ball of energy and light and is the happiest, friendliest, most resilient person out," he said.
"He would be able to do this if anyone could. A lot of them as well ... it's just heartbreaking to think they're out there on an island or a raft and there is nobody looking for them.
"Until we find the life rafts which have been eye witnessed by a survivor, until the time we find those, we're still on the provision they're still out there."
The cargo ship was en route to China's eastern coast after departing from Napier last month and was due to arrive when it hit rough weather and allegedly capsized after a freak wave.
It sent a distress signal at 4.45am (NZT) on Wednesday, September 2, reporting engine failure. Typhoon Maysak was blowing by southern Japan at the time of the incident.
The ship's automated tracker showed it sailing in high winds of 58 knots (107km/h) at its last known position, according to the ship-tracking website MarineTraffic.com.