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Hong Kong (Animal Welfare)

Volume 126: debated on Monday 1 February 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has about the level of export of black rhino horn from Hong Kong in each of the past five years.

[holding answer 25 January 1988]: In the past five years only one export licence for rhino horn has been issued; this was in early 1984, for the export to Taiwan of 51 kg of black rhino horn which came from stock held since before the convention on international trade in endangered species came into effect. A total ban on export of all rhino products, including horn, has been in force since 1 April 1986.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs why Her Majesty's Government permit the sale of black rhino horn in Hong Kong.

[holding answer 25 January 1988]: Only black rhino horn which comes from stock held since before the convention on international trade in endangered species (CITES) came into effect is permitted for sale in Hong Kong. Following the adoption by the Hong Kong Government of a CITES resolution in July 1987, the Hong Kong Government are to impose a total ban on the internal sale of rhino horn in July this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has about the importation into Hong Kong of black rhino horn in each of the past five years.

[holding answer 25 January 1988]: Hong Kong has banned the import of all rhino products, including horn, since 1979.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has on the importation of rare and endangered species into Hong Kong for gastronomic purposes; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 25 January 1988]: The Hong Kong Government take their responsibilities under the convention on international trade in endangered species very seriously. The import, export, or possession of endangered species, whether alive, dead, parts or derivatives, are prohibited except when authorised by licence. Licences for rare and endangered species that could conceivably be used for gastronomic purposes are issued only to bona fide conservationist organisations to facilitate the exchange of specimens for breeding purposes. No licences have been issued to permit the consumption of such specimens and none will be.To prevent the illegal importation of rare and endangered species, the Hong Kong Government conduct checks at points of entry and follow up these checks with inspections in markets and restaurants throughout the territory. The Hong Kong Government are at present conducting a review of these measures to see whether they can be made more effective.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many officials in Hong Kong are employed to inspect local restaurants to ensure that endangered species of animals are not served as food.

[pursuant to his reply, 18 January 1988, c. 498]: The Agricultural and Fisheries Department of the Hong Kong Government employ five full-time inspectors whose duties include making inspections and spot checks at markets and restaurants in Hong Kong to ensure that endangered species are not served as food.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if, pursuant to the reply of 13 January, Official Report, column 285, he will give details of the 14 seizures made in 1987 by the authorities in Hong Kong following inspections at local restaurants.

[pursuant to his reply, 18 January 1988, c. 498]: Following inspection of local restaurants to check for contravention of the Animals and Plants (Protection of Endangered Species) Ordinance, Cap. 187, the 14 seizures made in 1987 comprised five pangolins, 18 birds of prey, 16 giant salamanders and 12 bear paws.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if, pursuant to the reply of 13 January, Official Report, column 285, he will give details of the 136 seizures made in 1987 by the authorities in Hong Kong of illegally imported animals and plants.

[pursuant to his reply, 18 January 1988, c. 498]: The 136 seizures made in 1987 by Hong Kong officials of illegally imported endangered species comprised 16 pangolins, 117 birds of prey, 24 giant salamanders, 140 kilogrammes of pangolin meat and 2.5 kilogrammes of giant salamander meat.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if, pursuant to the reply of 13 January, Official Report, column 285, he will explain why only 80 restaurants were visited in Hong Kong during 1987.

[pursuant to his reply, 18 January 1988, c. 498]: The Hong Kong Government give priority first to the prevention of the illegal importation of endangered species, their parts and products; second, to the control of their commercial shipment under licence where licensing policy allows trade in scheduled specimens; and, third, to carrying out regular random checks of restaurants and markets in order to detect the sale of any such specimens which may have evaded import controls. Eighty such checks were made during 1987. Reports of the illegal trade in scheduled specimens and of the prohibited use of endangered species for food are investigated as they occur. The Hong Kong Government are considering proposals to strengthen their inspection capacity.