The Conservative Animal Welfare Group
215a Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent. CT7 9AH
Tel: 01843 848588 (a.m.) - Fax: 01843 844856 (24hr)
Labour has been negligent over illegal Bush Meat imports
The Conservative Animal Welfare Group today called upon a future Conservative Government to take stern action against the illegal trade in importation of Bush Meat that the Labour Government has left virtually unchallenged. Labour has failed to provide the protection from potential disease that is an inherent responsibility of a Government.
There is a trade in the UK that is probably worth up to £1 billion a year. This trade is clandestine, it is illegal and it potentially risks the life of every human and animal in the UK. The Labour Government has known about this trade, Conservative Lords, MEPs and MPs have tried to bring this to the attention of both the EU and Westminster Governments but have been stonewalled on each occasion.
This trade is the importation of Bush Meat very largely from Africa. This is a trade which is illegal, which often involves the killing of and eating of wild animals many of which are endangered or even CITES protected species and the Labour Government has done next to nothing about either stopping the trade or bringing prosecutions.
The Veterinary Laboratories Agency calculates that about 85% of the meat is brought in in personal luggage, some 11% is brought in in containers and about 3% through the postal system.
Some idea of how serious the Labour Government has been about this trade can be seen from the following figures:
UK anticipated Government expenditure per year on stopping illegal meat imports - about £9 million
Australian Government expenditure on their safety measures is about £245 million a year.
In the UK there are 110 ports of entry
In the UK we have 9 sniffer dogs dedicated to the problem.
In the period from April 2003 to 2004 an estimated 7,500 tonnes (with some people estimating that a true figure might be nearer 17,500 tones a year) of illegal meat came into the country yet only 2 prosecutions followed.
When a prosecution is successful the penalties are inappropriate. One person caught bringing in a total of 186lbs of illegal meat was fined £150 with £140 costs!
With an estimated 32 million people entering the UK through Heathrow alone in the year 2002/2003 only 10,528 people were searched for any form of smuggling. That is only one person in every three thousand.
There must be a potential risk from this unchallenged illegal trade. The risk is not only potentially to us as humans but in particular to our livestock. We saw the devastation caused by Foot & Mouth disease and yet the Labour Government has failed to act. The illegal Bush meat trade is a game of Russian roulette with the bullets being:
Foot & Mouth disease
One of the prime responsibilities of a Government is to protect the people. Labour has failed to act against this trade. The trade is illegal, the risks to the UK both in human and animal terms are significan. This trade also adds to the destruction of endangered species in other parts of the world. Turning a blind eye to the Bush Meat trade is both dangerous and morally indefensible.
CAWG expects a future Conservative Government to appreciate the dangers and the horrors of this illegal trade and to take strong action to protect our people and our livestock. We hope that a future Conservative Government will ensure that there is greater bio security at ports of entry and that those found to be participating in this vile trade will be brought to book.
CONTACT: Roger Baker MRCVS – 01227 264713