To date, in 2014, six voyages have taken place involving two ships taking cattle to Libya, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

Latest figures show live exports of cattle have increased 14% for the year to date, and are currently standing at 216,050 head according to Eoin Kelly, Business Analyst with Bord Bia.

Focusing on international markets, Kelly said in a recent update that over 18,000 head of cattle have been exported to date this year, an 11% increase on last year. North Africa is the main destination internationally, he says, with Libya continuing to drive trade, with numbers up 22% compared to the previous year’s levels

Minister Coveney has also said in an effort to further promote live exports, certificates have also been agreed with Egypt for fattening cattle and slaughter cattle, leaving the way open for commercial transactions to take place.

There are currently two applications for dedicated vessels being processed by Department for the carriage of livestock from Irish ports.

The Minister said that the applications were received in June and July respectively.

He said both vessels have been inspected by an Independent Marine Surveyor and a Department Veterinary Inspector and detailed reports have issued to the owner/applicants detailing certain modifications required to be made to the vessels.

According to the Minister approval of both vessels is subject to the outcome of further inspections by both the Marine Surveyor and his Department.

Several enquiries were received by his Department over recent months seeking information on the procedures involved for approval of livestock vessels for carriage of livestock from Ireland. However, no applications ensued.

The Minister said the live export trade provides alternative and important market outlets for certain categories of livestock, thereby serving a market demand and providing increased competition in the market place for cattle and he will continue to work with all those involved to facilitate this trade.