Hong Kong Customs officers have stepped up surveillance and tightened inspection at sea, land and air boundary to deter smuggling activities on birds and poultry, Assistant Commissioner (Boundary and Ports), Mr Chow Kwong, said today (February 6).
Mr Chow said, "Since the discovery of H5N1 in Hunan, Mainland in October last year, Hong Kong Customs has stepped up boundary protection enforcement actions. Front-line Customs officers have been put on high alert, and examination of suspicious imported cargoes and baggage has also been increased.
"We have strengthened intelligence exchange with Mainland and other Customs authorities, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) to crack down on smuggling activities of birds and poultry.
"Adopting risk management, our frontline officers have also stepped up checks on incoming travellers' baggage. We urge members of the public not to bring birds or poultry into Hong Kong illegally, or they will face prosecution," Mr Chow said.
Posters are displayed and TV-Announcement in the Public Interest is broadcast at the various control points to remind members of the public to take precautionary measures to guard against avian flu and not to bring birds or poultry into Hong Kong illegally.
Starting from October 28, 2005, the Control Points Command officers have launched a special operation codenamed "Operation Eagle" at all land boundary control points to suppress smuggling activities on birds and poultry.
During the period of the special operation from October 2005 to January 2006, Customs officers seized a total of 661.3 kg fresh poultry, 61.8 kg frozen poultry and five live birds and chickens. 212 persons were detained for investigation.
The special operation continues.
In 2005, Hong Kong Customs seized a total of 254,943 kg illicit chicken and poultry meat, and 28 illicit live chickens and birds at the air, land and sea boundary.
In January 2006, the Department seized 1,567 kg illicit chicken and poultry meat, and two illicit live chickens.
Under the Import and Export Ordinance, Chapter 60, any person importing unmanifested cargo, or importing prohibited articles (e.g. frozen or chilled meat, poultry or bird) not under and in accordance with an import licence, is an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for two years.
Under the Imported Game, Meat and Poultry Regulations of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance, Chapter 132 it is an offence to bring into Hong Kong any meat and poultry without an official certificate. The maximum penalty is a fine of $50,000 and six months' imprisonment.
Under the Public Health (Animals and Birds) Regulations of the Public Health (Animals and Birds) Ordinance, Chapter 139, it is an offence to import into Hong Kong any bird, unless it is accompanied by a valid health certificate. The maximum penalty is a fine of $25,000.
Ends/Monday, February 6, 2006