In August, owners of trucks transporting pigs without GPS trackers might face serious fines in Taiwan, an action the country’s Council of Agriculture has taken to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF).
Hog transportation from farms to slaughterhouses and other locations is one of the biggest channels for virus transmission, the council said.
They have anxiously watched nearby China’s difficulties controlling the disease. More than 137 outbreaks of ASF have been reported in the neighboring country, but sources say many cases are going unreported. Six Asian countries — China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and North Korea — have reported African swine fever outbreaks, in addition to 32 African countries and 17 European nations.
So far, GPS trackers have been installed on 1,425 vehicles used to transport hogs in Taiwan, with only 565 remaining without the equipment, reports the Taipei Times. If the disease enters Taiwan, the council would review the historical travel data of hog transportation vehicles to try to minimize the scope of affected areas.
The council’s Information Management Center has developed a platform to integrate the data from the GPS trackers, and government officials have started using on their cellphones to monitor vehicles nationwide.
Starting next month, owners of vehicles transporting live pigs would face fines from NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 under the Animal Protection Act if the vehicles have not had a GPS tracker installed or it is not turned on while in use, Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine meat inspection division director Rocky Lin said.
Owners of vehicles transporting pork or slaughtered pig parts would face fines from NT$30,000 to NT$150,000 under the Animal Industry Act for the same infractions, he said.
Taiwan amended animal transportation regulations in March to require GPS tracking. The council will continue to subsidize the installation of GPS trackers, as well as their mobile Internet fees for two years, Lin said.
Initially, the council set June as the start of the regulations, but delayed enforcement until August to allow for transporters to be compliant.
ASF has not yet been detected in North America. The disease is highly contagious among domestic and feral pigs but poses no human health risk. USDA and the pork industry have increased surveillance to protect the U.S. from entry of animal diseases, such as ASF.