The family of missing New Zealander Lochie Bellerby are still hopeful for his safe return.

The man is one of the two New Zealanders who were on the cattle ship that sunk in the South China Sea last week during a typhoon.

In a statement, the Bellerby family said they were grateful from the support of the local community and authorities.


"Lochie Bellerby's family appreciate the kindness and consideration shown to them by MFAT, Maritime NZ, NZ Police, and Interpol; the effort and dedication of the Japanese Coastguard, the caring support of family and friends, and of the local community during this challenging time."

The family said they were still hopeful for the safe return of Lochie and the other crew members.

Three people from the Gulf Livestock 1 ship have been found, but only two survived.

This morning the coastguard announced they would be scaling back the search.

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

The ship's Filipino chief officer was rescued by Japan's Coast Guard and said the ship lost engine power, then capsized after being hit by a large wave.

Following the incident, the Ministry for Primary Industries temporarily suspended consideration of cattle livestock export applications.