Taiwan may deploy more sniffer dogs at airports amid ASF fear

Taipei, The Council of Agriculture (COA) is planning to deploy more sniffer dogs and install X-ray scanners at speedy immigration clearance gates at airports after finding the number of travelers trying to smuggle meat products into Taiwan has not declined despite heavy fines.

The fine for bringing in pork or pork products from African swine fever (ASF)-infected territories, including China, Hong Kong, Macao, Russia and some European nations, was raised to NT$200,000 (US$6,564) on Dec. 18, with second offenders facing a NT$1 million fine.

The COA thought the stiffer punishments might work as a deterrent, but have turned out to be useless, said COA deputy chief Huang Chin-cheng Monday.

People keep coming in with banned products, he said, adding that "raising fines is not an issue any more."

Instead, Huang noted, the COA will propose at a Central Emergency Operation Center meeting on the ASF crisis scheduled for Jan. 4 reinforced inspection measures, including deploying more sniffer dogs and setting up X-ray scanners at serve-yourself immigration clearance gates at airports.

According to statistics from the COA's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, from Dec. 18-30, a total of 137 cases of travelers caught bringing meat products into Taiwan from areas infected with ASF, foot and mouth disease and avian flu have been reported.

Among the cases, 26 people were fined NT$200,000, 18 were slapped with a NT$50,000 fine, 83 were given a NT$30,000 fine, and 10 were fined NT$10,000, the tallies show.

Each day, at least two travelers have been caught and fined, with seven on Dec. 28, five on Dec. 29 and six on Dec. 30, according to the statistics.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel