Ireland revokes livestock ship operator's licence for low performance rating


Ireland revokes livestock ship operator's licence for low performance rating

18 February 2020
Decision concerns two ships regularly transporting live animals to the Middle East, prompting questions about monitoring of fleet.

The Irish government revoked approvals for the operator of two regular livestock carriers, the Atlantic M and the Express 1, last week, following questions from the Guardian and Irish farm animal welfare organisation Ethical Farming Ireland (EFI).

Internal emails appear to show that Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) was unaware that the performance ratings for the ships’ operator was below the required standard until a campaigner from EFI got in touch last year.

Last week DAFM told the Guardian it had written to the “owner/operator of the Atlantic M and the Express 1 regarding the department’s intention to revoke their approval … once the department became aware of the performance rating”.

“The operator was given 14 days to make representations”, the email went on to say, before the “owners/operator’s approval was subsequently revoked”.

Ireland’s exports of dairy, beef and livestock are a pillar of its agri-food sector. The latest figures from Bord Bia, the Irish food board, show agri-food products account for 10% of total exports. International sales of meat and livestock earned the country almost €4bn (£3.3bn) in 2019.

Shipping is an opaque and complex area, however, all the more so when live animals are involved. In 2016, to complement EU law, Ireland introduced another layer of regulation on the carriage of livestock by sea.