A ship under investigation after a possible biosecurity breach in Australia is due to dock in Napier on Sunday to pick up 4700 live cattle to take to China.

The live export ship, the Yangtze Fortune, was prevented from carrying 5000 cattle from Australia to China in August, after an investigation into a biosecurity breach was launched by the Department of Agriculture in Australia.

It is due to dock in Napier this Sunday, and depart for China next week, carrying 4700 live cattle if approved.

MPI's director of animal health & welfare Chris Rodwell said it had spoken with its Australian counterparts, and the biosecurity issue was to do with livestock tagging, rather than the vessel itself.

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A ship due to dock at Napier Port this Sunday is under investigation in Australia. Photo / File
A ship due to dock at Napier Port this Sunday is under investigation in Australia. Photo / File

"We are continuing to work closely with our Australian colleagues, who have also confirmed that this vessel has a current Australian Certificate for the Carriage of Livestock.

"The vessel will also be subject to our own stringent checks, including full biosecurity checks which will be carried out on the vessel when it enters New Zealand waters.

"We do not take chances with our biosecurity, which is vital to protect our primary sector and our economy. "

He said MPI is currently considering an application to export 4700 live cattle from Napier to China.

"Any decisions are made on a case by case basis and applications must satisfy our strict animal welfare requirements.

"In addition, we must be satisfied with the facilities and conditions on the vessel and no export will go ahead until the vessel is thoroughly inspected by our vets."

He said new rules had been introduced earlier this year, which means exporters have to provide a report on condition of animals 30 days after they arrive at their destination.

"Since the last shipment took place, and while a review is under way, we have gone even further and now require additional assurances from exporters on the post-arrival welfare of animals including information on their final point of destination and travel arrangements."

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Animal welfare organisation Safe has questioned the Government's decision to allow the ship to dock in Napier.

Campaigns manager Marianne Macdonald said the Yangtze Fortune is a high-risk live export ship "embroiled in a biosecurity investigation".

"But it appears to be business as usual for the New Zealand Government."

She said the Government was not taking the review into live exports seriously as it was continuing the practice while the review was under way.

"So far this year New Zealand has exported more cattle than were exported in total in 2018.

"We know that animals suffer on live export ships, and Yangtze Fortune has a bad track record."

A spokesperson for Napier Port confirmed the ship would be departing Napier with live cattle.

Minister for Biosecurity Damien O'Connor was unable to comment due to being in Thailand.