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  see also below Today online, 3 Jun 05
Ban on all live poultry in Ubin
and Channel NewsAsia, 4 Jun 05
Poultry rearing to be banned on Ubin but wild chickens still roost
By Joanne Leow

and The Straits Times, 4 Jun 05
Bird flu fears lead to Ubin poultry ban
Residents have two weeks to get rid of their birds; farmers offered compensation

By Chang Ai-Lien

Channel NewsAsia, 3 Jun 05
No poultry rearing on Pulau Ubin from 17 June
By Wong Siew Ying

SINGAPORE: The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority will impose a complete ban on poultry rearing on Pulau Ubin from 17 June. This comes after farmers and residents continued to flout the "10 caged poultry restriction" enforced last February to keep the avian flu at bay.

The 26 households affected said the latest announcement came as no surprise.

Farmer Lee Chin Wah received notice of the ban on Friday. Along with eight other farmers and 17 residents, Lee has two weeks to remove the poultry or sell them to AVA at market price. The 63-year-old owns 80 chickens and makes about a thousand dollars each month from the sale of poultry and fruits.

He is one of the 10 cases who did not comply with AVA's restriction of keeping not more than 10 live poultry, all of which must be properly caged for fear of catching the avian flu virus from wild birds. Lee said: "We don't have a choice. The chickens are healthier when they roam freely. They appear sickly when they're caged."

While there's a sharp drop in the number of live poultry on the island - from 750 to 225 last year - AVA says it has now climbed to some 300. And this must be contained before it becomes a weak link in Singapore's disease control efforts.

The nine licensed farmers affected by the ban have a month to decide if they wish to take up HDB's resettlement package. Those who choose not to can remain on the island and continue with their farming activities, except livestock rearing.

But it seems many are prepared to leave their farms behind. Farmer Ong Kue Huan said: "There's no point growing anything. The wild boars will dig them up promptly."

The government expects to spend a million dollars in resettlement benefits and compensation for the removal of their poultry-keeping structures.

But some of the affected residents not included in the resettlement plans, wanted more. Tan Long Jee, a resident, said: "If we can't rear poultry, how do we survive? Best if we can resettle on Singapore island." The farmers and residents will work closely with the authorities in the weeks ahead.

But there's no telling when the ban will be lifted. AVA's CEO, Ngiam Tong Tau, said: "It all depends on the spread of the disease in this region. But we can anticipate it'll be a long time." "Because the disease is now entrenched in many countries, it will remain endemic and it'll be a long while before the disease comes under control," he added. "We'll review that eventually but I don't anticipate this to be the next several years, at least," he said.

Those caught flouting the law could face up to a year's jail, and/or a fine of $10,000. The ban does not include households on the Singapore mainland.

Today online, 3 Jun 05
Ban on all live poultry in Ubin
by Sheralyn Tay

By June 17, the sight of chickens roaming freely on the dirt lanes of Pulau Ubin will be no more. The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) yesterday issued a ban on all live poultry on the island in a bid to minimise the risk of bird flu entering Singapore.

AVA CEO Ngiam Tong Tau said the move was "precipitated by the resurgence of avian flu in many countries in the region, the latest being China and Indonesia".

The ban does not apply to mainland farms and poultry stocks as they follow strict controls such as quarantine and import regulations.

Despite a directive passed in February last year limiting poultry rearing to 10 birds a cage, AVA inspectors have noted up to 10 cases of non-compliance on Pulau Ubin. The poultry on Pulau Ubin were found to be free-ranging.

Dr Ngiam, citing the World Health Organisation's warnings that inadequate controls on the avian flu may lead to the virus acquiring the ability to travel between people and spark off a pandemic, said: "We cannot afford to take half measures."

The ban could last a few years, he added. The Government will spend about $1 million to compensate and resettle farmers affected by the ban. Those who have farming licenses will be given the option to move to mainland Singapore. They will be given the standard resettlement benefits and compensated for removing their poultry-rearing structures.

Residents who rear poultry but do not have a licence will receive only goodwill payment. The authorities will assess the situation of each affected household and farm and compensate them accordingly.

The Straits Times, 4 Jun 05
Bird flu fears lead to Ubin poultry ban
Residents have two weeks to get rid of their birds; farmers offered compensation


THE authorities have moved to seal a potential chink in Singapore's bird flu armour, by banning poultry on Pulau Ubin.

Residents on the rustic island have been given two weeks to get rid of their chickens and ducks.

'In disease control, we cannot afford to have half-measures,' said Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) chief executive officer Ngiam Tong Tau yesterday. 'If it's not done well, then it leaves a weakness in the system that could allow the disease to come into Singapore.'

The nine licensed farms and 17 residents who rear chickens and ducks on the island have until Junec 16 to get rid of them. The AVA will buy any remaining birds at market prices, it said. From June 17, no one will be allowed to keep, breed, sell or buy live poultry on the island.

Singapore has so far kept bird flu at bay, but it is now endemic in the region, with infections killing more than 50 people.

Experts have blamed backyard farming for the outbreaks, and the World Health Organisation fears the H5N1 strain could spawn the next global flu outbreak which could kill millions of people.

Singapore remains on high alert against the deadly virus, with both the Health Ministry and AVA monitoring the situation closely. AVA, for example, said samples of up to 1,000 birds have been tested for the virus every month since April last year. They are from local and imported poultry, birds from the Singapore Zoo and Jurong BirdPark, migratory birds and imported ornamental birds.

The ban on Pulau Ubin extends the restriction imposed last year, when AVA prohibited farms and homes on the island from keeping more than 10 poultry each. They also had to be caged properly to stop them mixing with wild birds.

But some people continued to let their fowl roam free, despite checks and reminders from AVA officers. Also, the number of birds kept on the island has risen from 225 late last year to about 300.

'We anticipate that the ban will be in place for the next few years at least, because the disease is entrenched in the region,' said Dr Ngiam. Those caught flouting the rules face a maximum punishment of a $10,000 fine and a year in jail.

But the island's wild, free-roaming red junglefowl - the father of all domestic chickens - has been spared for now. A species considered globally vulnerable to extinction, the shy bird is unlikely to transmit the disease to people because it runs at the sight of them, Dr Ngiam said.

The ban has also not been extended to homes on the mainland. Families can still keep up to 10 pet chickens, provided they are caged. Those at the Zoo and BirdPark have been vaccinated against bird flu, while those at the Botanic Gardens are regularly checked for the disease, he added.

The Government has offered to resettle Pulau Ubin's affected farmers. They will be offered standard resettlement benefits, and compensated for removing their coops and other poultry structures. Farmers who spoke to The Straits Times said it was getting difficult to eke out a living and they would consider moving to the main island.

Mr Tan Hai Lian, who lives on Pulau Ubin with his 100-year-old father, is one of them. The 58-year-old, who has a small provision shop and a 2.4ha plot with fruit trees, said: 'I used to have a few hundred chickens to supplement my income. 'Now, that is gone and it may be easier to leave Ubin.'

Channel NewsAsia, 4 Jun 05
Poultry rearing to be banned on Ubin but wild chickens still roost
By Joanne Leow

SINGAPORE: A poultry ban may be taking effect on Pulau Ubin in two weeks, but wild chickens are still roosting in some parts of Singapore.

At Adelphi Park off Upper Thomson Road, residents say the wild chickens have been with them for some 50 years now. And the chicken population here is a thriving one, too. The birds even lay eggs now and then in flower pots. But just because the birds have been around for so long doesn't mean that all the residents feel that they are safe.

Seetoh Yew Choong, an Adelphi Park resident, said: "I think it's much safer for them to take action and get rid of everything......to prevent the spread of diseases and to make the estate cleaner."

While Mr Seetoh would like to see the chickens go, not everyone shares his feelings "Personally, I feel that I'm comfortable with it. So we shouldn't take a stringent approach because the numbers here are quite low and they grow in a natural environment," said Bruno Lee, a resident at Adelphi Park.

Not all the chickens in the estate are wild. One of the house owners who rears the birds, said she would be getting rid of her chickens in light of the ban in Pulau Ubin.

The ban is to reduce the risk of avian flu being spread by backyard poultry farms. But the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority has not extended the ban to private residents on the mainland.

Since the ban was announced, the 17 licensed farms on Pulau Ubin say they have received numerous calls enquiring about their chickens.

Farmer Lee Chin Wah said: "People called to reserve chickens. We can sell the big ones. But the small ones will have to go to AVA."

The impending ban will not affect the supply of kampung chicken in Singapore. The Poultry Merchants' Association of Singapore says Singapore gets up to 8,000 kampung chickens from Malaysia every day. The birds take twice the time to rear than ordinary chickens and are twice as expensive.

Related articles about Pulau Ubin
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