The government has decided to impose a permanent ban on the import and sale of live poultry in Macau from today, according to a statement by the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM).
Friday’s statement said the decision was aimed at protecting residents’ health and preventing an outbreak of poultry-related diseases in the city.
The statement also said it had been proven by experts that preventing contact between consumers and live poultry can prevent transmission of certain infectious viruses to humans.
The city’s Jive poultry sales were suspended on February 3 and never resumed. All live chicken and pigeons on sale in Macau were previously imported from the mainland. Local chicken and duck farming was banned decades ago. The import of live ducks was banned a number of years ago.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a banquet on Friday hosted by the Macau Federation of Trade Unions to celebrate May Day, Secretary for Administration and Justice Sonia Chan Hoi Fan pointed out that the government was forced to cull imported live poultry five times within a year in the run up to today’s ban, adding that so many culls within a 12-month period had never been necessary before, after the first bird flu case was confirmed in Macau in 2001.
The last cull took place in February. Chan also said she was aware of the ban’s adverse impact on the live Market poultry sector, adding she hoped, however, that the sector will respond to the issue “rationally” as the ban aims to protect public interest and residents’ health.
Meanwhile, Chow Wah Shing, vice-president of the Macau Live Poultry Dealer Association, criticised the government for its “unilateral decision”.
Chow said he was informed about the government’s announcement of the ban only four hours before IACM officials held a press conference about it on Friday, adding the government had not discussed the timing of the ban with his association. Chow said: “Dealers are very agitated [about the ban] now.”
According to the IACM statement, the government will keep in touch with the local live poultry sector and discuss possible compensation with its representatives. The statement also said the government would provide a daily allowance of 200 patacas to those affected by the bird flu sales suspensions and poultry culls between December last year and February.
Chow said IACM officials told his association that the government planned to hold a meeting with the live poultry sector on May 15 about the issue, adding his association planned to petition National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee Chairman Zhang Dejiang over the issue during his working visit to Macau on May 8-10.