The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government defended Hong Kong's new law banning backyard poultry farming, while a poultry owner applied for a judicial review against the new law Tuesday.
Facing disputes on the poultry ban from legislators as well as poultry owners, Hong Kong Health, Welfare and Food Bureau said Tuesday that the ban is needed so as to protect the health of the public, poultry keepers, their families and neighbors.
In response to a villager's decision to file a judicial review application against banning backyard poultry, the bureau said that as no biosecurity arrangements or systematic vaccination could be instituted, backyard poultry is susceptible to be infected by wild birds or migratory birds carrying the H5N1 virus.
Avian influenza is a global issue, the bureau said, every government should take swift and pre-emptive actions to stop the possible occurrence of human cases, which not only have a high fatality rate but also have adverse effects on the whole economy.
According to the World Health Organization, the mortality rate for humans infected with avian influenza is higher than 50 percent.
The bureau reiterated that Hong Kong government did not want to see members of the public being exposed to the risk of avian influenza infection brought by backyard poultry.
A villager from the New Territories, Hong Kong, applied Tuesday for a judicial review against the government's latest ban on the keeping of backyard poultry. She called on the government to compensate live-poultry owners for confiscated birds.
This comes after the government refused to compensate villagers affected by the ban.
The Hong Kong government gazetted legislative amendments to the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Licensing of Livestock Keeping) Regulation and the Waste Disposal Ordinance to ban backyard poultry keeping activities in Hong Kong on Feb. 8.
With the introduction of the legislative amendments, households will not be allowed to keep any backyard poultry. Unauthorized keeping of five kinds of live poultry would be an offense with a fine of 50,000 to 100,000 HK dollars (about 6,400 to 12,900 U.S.
The Hong Kong government rejected calls to compensate owners of backyard chickens, saying direct compensation for the seized birds might worsen the smuggling problem by encouraging people to buy birds from the mainland.