Toll Shipping, which moves about 40 per cent of all livestock between Tasmania and Victoria, was looking at introducing more services.
“We are aware of the current capacity issues over the peak season and we are working on how best to tackle them in the short term, including whether it is viable for us to do some Sunday sailings,” A Toll spokesperson said.
“Our future plans include introducing two larger, replacement vessels which will be introduced in 2018-19 and which will have more trailer capacity for shipping livestock and other goods.”
Tasmanian Logistics Committee chairman Steve Henty said capacity would increase by late next year.
“Searoad has a new vessel due to be online late 2016 which will increase their capacity by 50 per cent, increasing Bass Strait capacity by about 25pc,” Mr Henty said.
“Searoad have the capacity to run Sunday sailings during the Christmas-Easter period, and the TT-line are running day sailings (in addition to their night sailings) for the same period.”
Capacity constraints on Tasmania’s domestic shipping services have been holding up the transport of livestock from Tasmania, for up to two weeks. The owner of one of two main carriers, Hodge Transport Services Ballarat, has been trying to bring in 40 crates a week, but has been restricted to 10-15 trailers.
Owner Ron Hodge said the biggest issue was finding space to take empty stock crates to Tasmania.
“They can get all the space, southbound, with Christmas products, but we haven’t got space to take the empties,” Mr Hodge said.
“They’re not too keen to take clothes over in stock crates.”
Tasmanian graziers were destocking, in the face of the driest spring since 1960, Roberts Ltd state livestock manager Warren Johnson said.
Between 1000-cattle a week were leaving the state, bought mainly by stock agents in Albury and Bathurst, he said.
But Geoff Page, of Page Transport, Carrick, Tas, said space was always tight, at the end of the year.
“Shipping space is at a premium, on Bass Strait at this time of the year – it doesn’t matter if it is lambs, or produce, or crackers for the Christmas table,” Mr Page said.
“It’s only a problem for four weeks, once we get into the second or third week of December it becomes a little bit easier.”
He said the company was not experiencing significant problems.
“There’s nothing unusual about the numbers, it’s probably a month, to six weeks earlier – it’s usually an after Christmas job; it’s early and all weather related.”
He confirmed capacity had been reached, with all allocations to bring empty crates to Tasmanian filled.
“But it’s one of those situations, which isn’t new – I just wish I had half of this cargo, in August.”
He said increased sheep numbers, going out of the state, was also having an impact on livestock transporters.