Libya cattle shipments resume
Libya was a valuable market for Irish live cattle exports in the past, taking 81,420 cattle valued at more than EURO 70 million in 1995. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times
Some 500 cattle are being loaded on to the Al Mahmoud Express ship in Waterford port today, joining 2,400 others bound for Libya in the first shipment of live cattle to the country since the mid-1990s.
It is expected to sail to Tripoli this evening or tomorrow. The cattle were bought through marts and directly from farms in recent weeks.
Libya was a valuable market for Irish live cattle exports in the past, taking 81,420 cattle valued at more than €70 million in 1995. However, in 1996 Libya banned beef imports from the EU because of the BSE outbreak.
Department of Agriculture officials inspected and approved the Al Mahmoud Express ship in recent weeks and Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney welcomed the resumption of the trade.
He said the current Irish regulation in relation to the approval of ships for livestock transport set a higher standard than that which applied in other EU Member States "and this is justified not only on sound animal welfare reasons but also because it reflects the nature of the shipping routes from this island".
Animal welfare organisations have expressed concern about the resumption of the trade.
Vegan Ireland and the Alliance for Animal Rights are holding a candlelit vigil at the port this evening, to highlight their objection to the resumption of the live export trade to Libya.
IFA president John Bryan was at the port this morning and welcomed the resumption of the live export trade to Libya. He said a strong live export trade was "absolutely essential" for the €2 billion Irish beef and livestock sector.