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Samoa bans avian meat import from Australia

The Samoan Government has slapped a temporary ban of the importation of all avian and ratite meat, egg products, live birds, and animal reproductive materials from Australia.

The decision was announced by the Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F), Tilafono David Hunter, as part of the Government's preventative measures against the Avian Influenza.

The Avian Influenza is a serious poultry disease that can cause high mortality in bird species used for commercial purposes. 

In a public notice issued by M.A.F. on Tuesday, it states that all import permits issued for the named products originated from Australia will be suspended until further notice and the named products currently in transit from Australia will possibly be incinerated or reshipped back to Australia. 

This public notice is issued pursuant to section 33 and 58 of the Quarantine (Biosecurity) Act 2005 and in conjunction with the Ministry’s efforts to stop the introduction into Samoa of avian influenza virus.

According to Tilafono, he said that M.A.F. was informed on the 14th of August 2020 via an official communication from Chief Veterinary Officer of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (D.A.W.E.) in Australia, notifying of the detection of avian influenza virus in the State of Victoria, Australia. 

He also added that the Ministry’s counterpart in the Pacific Community (S.P.C.) have also advised the Ministry of this highly pathogenic avian influenza as part of their work to alert Pacific Island countries to implement preventive measures to protect our poultry resources and industry from Avian Influenza. 

D.A.W.E. continues to regularly update our Ministry via our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of their efforts to contain and eradicate the Avian Influenza virus in the State of Victoria.

“An official notification dated 27 August was issued to advise our business community of the detection of the two types of virus – highly pathogenic avian influenza and low pathogenic avian influenza in different areas in the State of Victoria, and to advise them of the suspension of importation of all avian and ratite meat and meat products, eggs and egg products, live birds and animal reproductive materials from the State of Victoria until further notice,” he said.

He added that a public notice was recently issued to advise our importers and the general public of temporary ban of importation of all avian and ratite meat and meat products from all of Australia, given the potential spread of the virus to other states, especially those states where we import these products. 

“Any goods or products of avian origin/source intercepted through the airport cargo, seaport and depot clearance will be seized for incineration or re-export back to Australia. 

“Quarantine inspectors are conducting monitoring every two weeks to ensure that importers are in compliance to eliminate the risks of introducing this virus into Samoa. 

“The Ministry also has an emergency response plan in place to strengthen our overall biosecurity, from our border control, to our surveillance capability, and on to our ability to respond quickly in effectively containing and eradicating an exotic pests or disease.”

However, as with the threat of African Swine Fever in pigs, the Ministry has decided that it is better to protect Samoa’s borders/country and prevent the potential intrusion of the avian influenza virus, than to treat/contain it post entry, as the Ministry may not be able to do so in order to save our limited poultry (local broiler and layer) resources since the majority are free range, just like our pigs.

The M.A.F. CEO added that Samoa imports chicken meat and meat products from Australia but not in large amounts compared to America.

“The introduction of the avian influenza will affect our subsistence, semi-commercial and commercial poultry farmers as it is a highly contagious disease.  Our rural people are highly dependent on these goods for food security purposes and it is their livelihood. 

“Currently, the importation of poultry products are allowed with the condition of an Import Permit (issued from the MAF – Quarantine Division) and International Animal Health Certificate (issued and certified by the Biosecurity Department/Government Veterinarian of the exporting country), namely for the following: Day Old Chicks, Chicken parts and products, Turkey parts and products, Fresh Eggs, Fertile Eggs and Live Ducks and Geese. 

“The import conditions for such goods are subject to change at the discretion of the Ministry and permits may be revoked without notice when such cases of outbreaks occur around the world (upon notification from the World Organisation for Animal Health or country of outbreak).”

Tilafono also stressed that the Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry is taking the proactive approach to safeguard our local livestock industry and consumers alike from being affected by putting in place the temporary ban for such goods. 

“It is normal for animal disease outbreaks and their re-emergence to occur at any time and place despite existing efforts towards animal disease field containment and prevention plans put in place by countries.

“Therefore, should there be an introduction into/outbreak in Samoa, there will be serious effects on the poultry industry (subsistence, semi-commercial, and commercial).  

“Samoa is Avian Influenza free and a significant outbreak could threaten our fragile industry (particularly poultry meat and eggs), livelihood, trade, tourism and our economy in general.”

He added that Samoa currently allows the importation of chicken meat and meat products from approved countries such as the USA and American Samoa.

“Chicken meat and meat products supply from the USA will suffice given that vessels arrive into the country according to schedule.” 

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