Taipei, Oct. 29 (CNA) During a period of 11 days, 73 cases of attempted smuggling of meat products into Taiwan from areas affected by a highly contagious livestock disease were discovered, according to the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) on Monday.
In an effort to strengthen the prevention of livestock diseases, since Oct. 18, the BAPHIQ has been issuing a maximum fine of NT$15,000 (US$485) against travelers attempting to bring meat products into the country from areas affected by the African swine fever or hoof-and-mouth disease.
According to BAPHIQ statistics, the 73 cases of fined meat items discovered from Oct. 18-28, included cured meats, beef, sausages and hot dogs, of which 43 came from China, 21 from Vietnam, five from the Philippines, and two from both South Korea and Thailand.
The move to issue maximum fines was based on the fact that the original fines of over NT$3,000 and under NT$15,000 failed to reduce the number of people carrying prohibited meat products, raw or processed, into Taiwan.
Peng Ming-hsing (彭明興), a BAPHIQ official, said that Taiwanese nationals weren't the only ones fined, as foreign and Chinese spouses, and migrant workers were among those handed the penalty.
A draft amendment to Article 45-1 in the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease, which aims to raise the maximum fine to NT$300,000 for illegally bringing meat products into Taiwan, has already been sent to the Executive Yuan on Oct. 22, Peng said.
The draft amendment will need to be passed in the Legislative Yuan after the Executive Yuan's approval.
To prevent African swine fever from entering Taiwan, the BAPHIQ and the Customs Administration have been jointly stepping up searches of travelers' luggage at airports and seaports.
And between Sept.1 and Oct. 17, a total of 193 items of pork products have been found on travelers from China, BAPHIQ statistics pointed out.
Meanwhile, African swine fever, which has a high mortality rate in pigs, is still spreading in China since its outbreak in early August and the number of cases has risen to 53 in 13 provinces, cities and districts, according to the BAPHIQ.