In response to the loss of the Gulf Livestock 1 in international waters south of Japan on September 2, Maritime New Zealand is continuing to work with a number of agencies in New Zealand and overseas on all aspects of the incident.
Our focus is on maritime safety as well as offering appropriate support to our partners such as the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
In terms of any investigation into the vessel’s loss, under international conventions, the Flag State for the vessel involved (the place where the ship is registered) – in this case Panama – has a responsibility to investigate the incident in accordance with established international procedures (known as the Casualty Code). As the search and rescue operation has now been suspended, we expect the focus will now move to understanding the causes of the incident.
As New Zealand has a strong interest in this incident, Maritime NZ has contacted Panamanian maritime authorities to express our interest in this matter so that we will be kept informed and can provide any support that may be required.
In terms of responsibility for the search and rescue (SAR) operation, as this incident occurred within Japan’s SAR region, the Japanese authorities have been leading the SAR response. That search has now been suspended. Maritime NZ has however been in close communication with them to ensure we have a clear picture of the SAR activity, and to offer any support or information that may assist.
In any SAR operation, once extensive searching is completed – and when it is judged that there is a very small chance of finding any more survivors – international guidelines provide a process to be followed to allow the suspension of active search efforts. The responsible authority will make such a decision (as Japan has done) after a careful review of all the relevant circumstances.
In the meantime, Maritime NZ is continuing to work with and support MPI, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other New Zealand Government agencies to ensure a coordinated response to the incident from a New Zealand perspective.