Clock is ticking in race to find replacement live export vessel

The clock continues to tick in the race to find a replacement vessel to carry live export trucks from Ireland to the continent.

The Stena Horizon is set to go into dry dock for maintenance for a number of weeks during the calving season.

Efforts have been made to identify a replacement vessel; but, as yet, there has been no confirmation of a ferry to take over from the Stena Horizon.

It is understood that officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine travelled to Scotland last week to inspect a vessel; no developments arose following this trip.

This morning, a spokesperson for Stena Line told AgriLand: “Stena Line can confirm that it has chartered a vessel as a temporary replacement ship for the Stena Horizon, during its planned maintenance dry docking in early 2018.

“Stena Line is currently working with the owners to obtain the necessary statutory vessel certifications for this highly specialist trade (carrying live export trucks).

The criteria for carriage is naturally and correctly extremely detailed in relation to key welfare issues – such as stability, movement, ventilation etc. As yet, we have not been able to fulfil these requirements; but, we are working hard to find a suitable solution.

With the 2018 calving season now getting underway on many dairy farms across the country, pressure to secure a vessel to take over from the Stena Horizon will begin to build much faster over the next week or two.

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) is confident that the situation will be resolved in the near future.

Speaking to AgriLand, the chairperson of the ICMSA’s Livestock Committee Des Morrisson outlined that the department must prioritise this issue as a matter of urgency and that a replacement ferry must be confirmed by the end of this week.

“There will be over 1.5 million calves born between now and the end of May and it absolutely essential that the shipping issue is resolved – and that an announcement is made publicly.

“We have to know that we have the means and capacity to get our calves to the buyers and markets waiting for them,” he said.