Canberra - Two pig farmers in Western Australia who illegally imported wild pig semen from Denmark using shampoo bottles have been sentenced to three and two years in prison, respectively.
Torben Soerensen and Henning Laue, employees of the Australia-based pig farm GD Pork, were jailed on Tuesday for biosecurity breaches carried out between May 2009 and March 2017, Australian Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie said on Wednesday.
The pair's illegal act put the country's pork industry "at serious risk," she said.
The duo had pleaded guilty to multiple charges of aiding the illegal importation of boar semen over several years. Soerensen, GD Pork's managing director, was sentenced to three years in prison, while Laue, the production manager, was sentenced to two years.
The company, which is currently in liquidation, was fined 500,000 Australian dollars (340,000 US dollars).
The pig semen was brought into the country by Danish investors and used in the company's artificial breeding program. With the imported semen, at least 199 sows were inseminated, resulting in the spawning of more than 2,000 piglets, Australian broadcaster ABC reported.
Mackenzie said GD Pork had imported the semen illegally to get an unfair advantage over competitors with new genetic diversity.
The case shows "a disturbing disregard for the laws that protect the livelihoods of Australia's 2,700 pork producers" and the penalties send "a clear message that breaches of Australia's biosecurity rules will not be tolerated."
"Boar semen can potentially contain a number of exotic diseases, including Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRSV), which could devastate Australian breeding herds," she said.dpa