HC Deb 24 June 2003 vol 407 cc670-1W
Mr. Laxton

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action her Department is taking to reduce the trade in bushmeat. [121062]

Mr. Bradshaw

Since March 2002, the Department has had in place a series of measures designed to tackle the disease risks posed by illegal imports of all types of meat and animal products. The number of illegal imports seized in 2002–03 rose to three times the number made in the previous year, reflecting increased enforcement activity and better evidence-based targeting.

Additional resources for the coming years, together with the improved enforcement and intelligence capability provided by HM Customs and Excise, should ensure that this work is consolidated and built upon. HM Customs are setting up four mobile detection teams to target meat and animal products, and will be increasing the number of detector dog teams to six during the current financial year.

Defra are also working with the Food Standards Agency and HM Customs to understand what drives the demand for exotic meats and animal products in the UK.

In addition, under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) the UK played a key role in setting up a Working Group of Central African countries, which is due to report to the next Conference of the Parties in October 2004. We expect its recommendations to provide a valuable resource for all the countries of the region, in aiding their efforts to harmonise and strengthen local controls on the bushmeat trade.