An aircraft and two patrol boats will resume the search for missing crew members, including two New Zealanders, from the capsized cattle ship in the South China Sea, the Japanese Coast Guard says.

The search for the missing crew, including New Zealanders Scott Harris and Lochie Bellerby, was suspended because of bad weather on Saturday, when Typhoon Haishen was headed towards southwestern Japan.

So far, two crew members have been rescued, while another died after being found unconscious on Friday.


Their ship, the Gulf Livestock 1, had sent a distress call from the west of Amami Oshima island in southwestern Japan last Wednesday as Typhoon Maysak lashed the area with strong winds and heavy seas.

Yesterday afternoon an aircraft searched the waters around the islands off the south west of Japan but nothing was found. Today an aircraft and two patrol boats will continue the search.

The ship had been carrying 43 crew members and nearly 6000 cattle when it left Napier's port in New Zealand on August 14.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor told Morning Report New Zealand did not have jurisdiction over what happened to the ship and would rely on investigations from the Panamanian sector, and would work with Japan.

Scott Harris is one of two New Zealanders who were on the boat when ran into trouble near Japan.
Scott Harris is one of two New Zealanders who were on the boat when ran into trouble near Japan.

O'Connor said he supported the move by the Ministry for Primary Industries to suspend live stock exports after the capsize.

"We need to have more indications and more clarity before putting any more stock or any more New Zealanders on a boat like this. We need to know that the boat is seaworthy and the competency of the crew means they're not going to go into such unsafe situations again."

There were no indications the boat was unseaworthy, he said. "It may have been a judgement and there may have been pressure that caused the captain to go through the eye of the storm. Clearly a very unfortunate decision."

Another boat travelling to China decided to change course and go round the typhoon, he said.


O'Connor said New Zealand had oversight on the care of animals on the ship, by having stock managers and veterinarians on board.