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1 March 1999
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is asking people not to send stock away for transport across Cook Strait unless they have a confirmed booking with one of the ferry companies because of concern for the welfare of the animals.
Tranz Rail has advised MAF that not only is the new ferry Aratere is out of service for some days while it undergoes tests and sea trails, the Arahunga is in dry dock in Australia for routine maintenance. It will not return until 15 March.
This means the Arahura is the only Tranz Rail InterIsland ferry in service capable of carrying large numbers of stock.
This shortage of capacity coincides with an extraordinarily busy time for stock movement. One of the reasons - although not the only one - is drought-stricken South Island farmers trying to move their stock to the North Island. There is also the usual movement of stock to meat works for slaughter.
MAF has concerns about the welfare of animals if they are sent off to the ferry when there is in fact no room for them. Given the current circumstances, it could take some time to get them on a sailing.
MAF is therefore advising people to hold stock unless they know they have a confirmed booking.
The Ministry says Tranz Rail had acted responsibly in advising meat companies and stock transporters of the situation and asking them not to present stock 'on the off chance' of getting them onto the Arahura.
Media inquiries to:
Debbie Gee, Director, Corporate Communications 04-474 4258