Hong Kong seeks to end live markets & pig farming
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2006:
Hong Kong–Citing H5N1 prevention as an urgent pretext, the
Hong Kong Health, Welfare, & Food Bureau in February 2006 asked the
Legislative Council to ban live poultry sales by 2009, a goal the
bureau has pursued since 1997.
Under a permit buy-back plan introduced in 2004, 272 of 814
live chicken vendors and 30 of 200 Hong Kong chicken growers have
gone out of business, the bureau said.
The Hong Kong government is also trying to buy out and close
all 265 local pig farms, which raise 330,000 pigs per year,
producing 520 metric tons of waste per day. Pigs have in the past
been an intermediary host for avian flus that spread to humans.
However, the Legislative Council panel on Food Safety and
Environmental hygiene on April 11 rejected the Health, Welfare, and
Food Bureau’s plan to require all poultry sold in Hong Kong to be
slaughtered at a central plant to be built in the New Territories,
the semi-rural district between the mainland and the cities of
Kowloon and Hong Kong. The plan was also voted down by the North
District Council–because incoming poultry might bring in H5N1.
Hong Kong banned keeping chickens and ducks as pets,
effective on February 20, 2006, after H5N1 was confirmed in 10 wild
birds of four different species, but on March 30 began issuing
exemptions. Hong Kong secretary for health, welfare and food York
Chow Yat-ngok told Mary Ann Benitez of the South China Morning Post
that the government had “noted with compassion the bonds between
owners and their pet poultry and the owners’ wish to keep their
poultry as pets till their natural deaths.”
The Hong Kong legislature authorized granting exemptions
after searches of homes throughout the territory’s rural areas netted
“about 300 banned birds from 60 households,” Benitez wrote. “Three
unauthorised farms with 1,200 chickens and 3,300 quail also were
discovered and closed.”
Officials had expected to find as many as 9,000 chickens and
3,500 ducks, reported Agence France-Presse.
Hong Kong tried to ban and cull other bird species kept as
pets when H5N1 first appeared in 1996, killing six humans, but many
bird keepers released their pets rather than allowing them to be
slaughtered. This might have spread the disease if any of the pet
birds had been infected.