35,000 calves expected to travel to the continent on replacement ferry

It is expected that in the region of 35,000 calves will be exported via the replacement ferry on the Rosslare-to-Cherbourg route during the four-week period that the Stena Horizon is out of action.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michae Creed, confirmed that the Stena Carrier will takeover from the Stena Horizon on February 20, when it goes into dry dock for maintenance.

But, the the department added that it is difficult to predict future market developments. Further lesser numbers are also expected to be exported on the Dublin-to-Cherbourg route.

Commenting on the approval of the Stena Carrier, Minister Creed said: “Since this issue of the withdrawal of the Stena Horizon from service for routine maintenance first came to notice in October 2017, senior officials from my department have been actively engaging with all relevant stakeholders on the matter.

Whilst I and my department have no direct involvement in the commercial activities or operational decisions of ferry companies, we were acutely conscious of the potential impact that lack of capacity could have on the ability of the industry to export livestock in the busy spring period.

The minister added that he fully appreciates the fact that decisions relating to the deployment and scheduling of ferries is a “significant and complex undertaking on behalf of ferry companies”.

He wished to express thanks to all those who “engaged positively in seeking a solution” over the past number of months.

Concluding, he said: “In particular, I acknowledge the management of Stena Line Ferries who have redeployed this particular ferry to service this route at this time.

“I also want to acknowledge the very significant efforts on the part of those staff in my department who have worked tirelessly on the issue, for the benefit of the industry, over the past number of months.”

As yet, no details about how many berths will be available for live export trucks have been confirmed.

Various farm organisations have underlined the neccessity that export capacity is maintained at similar levels to those in recent years during the busy calving period.