THE newly-announced ferry route between Cork and Spain is attracting major interest from the tourism and haulage industry and is set to become a “game changer” for the fishing sector.
Port of Cork Commercial Manager Michael McCarthy said they have been blown away by the reaction to the route.
“We have had huge feedback already from the haulage industry, both for hauliers heading south and hauliers coming back with product,” Mr McCarthy told the Evening Echo.
“We've been in discussion with the whole fishing industry because they have the potential to be one of the base cargoes from Ireland into Spain.” The planned route, from Cork to Santander in northern Spain, will begin in April, operated by Brittany Ferries.
Mr McCarthy said the route could offer a massive saving in both time and effort for trawlers whose catch was destined for the continent.
“Spanish and French trawlers predominantly land across the west coast of Ireland and their route to market currently is through Rosslare, Fishguard and Holyhead,” he said. “They travel to the southern UK ports and then either across the Channel and drive down through France or pick up a ferry from the south of the UK into Spain.” These fishermen see the obvious benefit of being able to go from the south of Ireland directly to the Spanish coast.
“This will save them anywhere from 1000-1200 km per trip. When the haulage industry do their calculations they look at potentially €1 per km travel so you can see the type of savings.”
Diners and restaurants in France and Spain could also benefit from getting fresher produce.
“That is just travel costs, obviously there would be a major time saving too, it could easily take a day or two days off each trip, so the fish will be getting to market a lot fresher,” Mr McCarthy said.
“Then couple it with our environmental obligations under the Paris Agreement and the recent announcements by Government on our emissions up to 2020 - this also has the potential to substantially reduce emissions.” The route has also piqued the interest of the tourism industry in both countries, so much so that the Port of Cork has been contacted by the Spanish Embassy with a view to their ambassador promoting the route.
News of the new route received a warm welcome when it was announced in January. The service will operate twice-weekly from the end of April.