On 24 January I signed an Order implementing regulations for the transport of cattle by sea from Ireland on cattleships. The Order, which takes effect on 1 February, is entitled "Diseases of Animals (Carriage of Cattle by Sea) Order, 1996" and it complements and augments the welfare provisions already included in the Diseases of Animals (Protection of Animals During Transport) Order, 1995 which came into effect last May and made provisions for the transport of animals by road, rail and air.
The new Order will provide for: prohibition of the carrying of cattle on ships which have not been approved for that purpose; procedures and detailed specifications for approving ships including the documentation and back-up information to be provided; inspection of ships to determine suitability; revocation, suspension of approvals in cases of non-compliance; conditions in relation to unfavourable weather; the submission of voyage plans; loading and care of livestock on board by suitably qualified persons; stocking density levels; arrangements to ensure the proper supply and storage of sufficient fodder and water; and reports to be submitted after each journey.
Ships will be assessed on a continuing basis by reference to the detailed criteria in the Order. The approval procedure will involve detailed inspections of ships by independent marine consultants nominated by my Department and the Department of the Marine to assist both Departments in assessing the overall suitability of ships for transporting animals. In this regard, the final decisions on suitability will continue to rest with my Department's veterinary inspectorate.
The provisions of the new Order are designed to ensure that cattle being exported to Third Countries are loaded and transported on ships without undue risk or suffering and that they will receive proper care and attention during sea journeys.