Freight News, Sea

Live cattle shipments move to Dover

[ May 2, 2013   //   ]

Dover Harbour Board (DHB) has confirmed that it will in future handle shipments of live cattle instead of Ramsgate, following berthing trials and modifications to the sole ship used in the trade, the MV Joline. Vessel operator, Dutch-owned Barco de Vapor has been given permission to commence a service from the Port’s Eastern Docks ro-ro berths within specified weather limitations. The first service is due to take place on Thursday 2 May.

The cattle trade is controversial and shipments from Ramsgate attract frequent protests from animal rights protestors. However, DHB points out that it has little leeway in the matter, as the High Court has previously ruled that it must facilitate the trade. In a statement it said: “Dover Harbour Board is duty bound to facilitate this legal trade, something that the High Court has made clear to ports, and DHB in particular. Any change to the legality of this trade is something only the politicians can address by changing the law.”

It points out that the shorter crossing time from Dover to Calais compared with Ramsgate should improve the welfare of the animals being transported to Continental abattoirs.

With the main ferry companies refusing to handle cattle shipments, the MV Joline is the sole link to the Continent for such shipments. The vessel, a converted Russian river ferry, has space for a maximum of seven trailers and even with the shorter crossing time from Dover, is expected to take three hours to reach Calais, compared with around 1½ fours for the regular ferry services.

Animals will not be held in the port prior to shipment; the trailers will be driven straight onto the ferries in order to make the journey as short and efficient as possible. Shipments will be supervised by the Government’s Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA).