4 Aug 2015

Illegal birds' nests 'could devastate poultry industry'

4:37 pm on 4 August 2015

The prosecution of a man who tried to import 68 birds' nests from Malaysia has been welcomed by the country's poultry industry.

Biosecurity sign, Auckland Airport.

Photo: RNZ

Tian Chi Lee was fined $15,000 in the Manukau District Court last week after he tried to illegally import the swiftlet birds' nests, which are a Chinese delicacy.

Poultry Industry Association chief executive Michael Brooks said avian diseases - such as bird flu and Newcastle Disease - were devastating poultry farms around the world.

Mr Brooks said the nests that were intercepted were made from the saliva secretions of the swiftlet bird, which carry a number of diseases not found in New Zealand.

He said an outbreak of Newcastle disease amongst poultry in New South Wales in 2001 cost the Australian Government $A26m ($NZ28.8m) to eradicate, and involved the mass destruction of birds.

"One thing we are certainly seeing around the world is that a range of wild bird species are proving susceptible to avian influenza, carrying avian influenza. Particularly in parts of Asia and around the world, we're seeing a real burst again of avian influenza outbreak and that's the risk that we have here, that this may be from such species.

"That's why the regulations are in place - clearly this gentleman was aware there were bans, because it was sent with a false declaration to a fictitious person."