2005-11-05 / central news agency /
The Council of Agriculture will revise the relevant law to increase the maximum punishment for bird smuggling, a COA official said Friday.
Chiang Hsien-chung, a section chief of the COA's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, made the remarks in response to calls by lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party to step up inspection to plug any holes in the government's efforts to prevent an avian flu outbreak on the island.
Chiang said that currently, the maximum punishment for bird smuggling is imprisonement for three years, adding that after the revision, the maximum punishment will be a seven-year prison sentence as well as a fine of NT$3 million.
DPP Legislators Wang Sing-nan and Lan Mei-chin cited reports of suspicious wild birds from China being found in Taiwan bird shops, claiming that the birds had been smuggled into the country in carry-on luggage.
The lawmakers said that avian flu could possibly be introduced into Taiwan by smuggled birds, urging airport customs officials to step up their examinations of the carry-on luggage of passengers arriving from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Southeast Asia.
Lu Tsai-yi, a smuggling prevention official of the Directorate General of Customs under the Ministry of Finance, said that customs has rigorous checking measures.