LCQ12: Traders holding animal trader licences

    Following is a question by the Hon Audrey Eu and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (June 25):


    Some members of the public have relayed to me that the sale of pet birds is against animal rights.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a) it has compiled statistics on the annual number of pet birds imported into Hong Kong for sale; if it has, of a breakdown of such birds imported last year by bird type; and

(b) it will consider making legislative amendments to ban the commercial sale of pet birds; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?


Madam President,

(a) At present, there are about 60 bird traders holding animal trader licences in Hong Kong.  Between July 2007 and May 2008, a total of 14 320 birds were imported into Hong Kong and about 13 500 of them were sold by licensed bird traders.  A table showing the species and numbers of imported birds is at Annex.

(b) There are divergent views in the community about keeping birds.  However, as reflected by the sale of over 10 000 birds by licensed bird traders last year, quite a number of people like to keep birds.

    The Administration will continue to promote protection of animal rights through law enforcement, promotion and education.  Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance (Cap 169), anyone who commits acts of cruelty to animals, such as causing needless suffering to animals and improper confinement of animals, shall be liable on conviction to a maximum fine of $200,000 and three years' imprisonment.  In recent months, the court has, for the first time, imposed a sentence of six months' imprisonment under the Ordinance.  All local licensed bird traders and pet bird owners are required to strictly comply with the Ordinance.

    Moreover, under the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Animal Traders) Regulations (Cap 139B), any person who engages in the commercial trading of birds is required to obtain an animal trader licence.  Licensees must observe the additional conditions and the Code of Standards attached to the licence, including ensuring that the enclosures used to confine birds and the sanitary standards meet the licensing standards.

    The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department conducts regular inspections on licensed bird traders and institutes prosecutions against bird traders found contravening the licensing conditions.  Since 2006, a total of five bird traders were prosecuted for contravening the licensing conditions.

    Bird trading activities and animal rights are already properly regulated in Hong Kong.  We have no intention to introduce legislative amendments to ban the commercial trading of birds.  The Administration will continue to strictly enforce animal rights legislation.

Ends/Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Issued at HKT 15:26