EU parliament must act to stop illegal trade in wild animals and plants
On Wednesday 15 January 2014 the European Parliament will cast a plenary vote on an EU Resolution on Wildlife Crime that calls for increased action and leadership at Brussels and at the national level to halt the illegal trade in wildlife products within the EU and worldwide.
rhino wildlife trade
WWF and TRAFFIC strongly support the spirit of this initiative, led by MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, and call on all the Members of the European Parliament to ensure the EU adopts a strong resolution against illicit wildlife trafficking.
The Resolution will catalyse action by the EU Commission and Member States to reinforce and fully implement existing legislation at EU and national levels, improve border controls, increase sanctions and penalties for convicted traffickers and strengthen intra-community co-operation and communication between relevant agencies such as Police and Customs to ensure that no illicit wildlife products are traded in the EU market.
The EU should also join world leaders in a common global effort to support countries to protect their endangered wildlife while promoting campaigns in consumer countries such as China, Thailand and Viet Nam to stop the demand for illegal wildlife products such as rhino horns, tiger bones and ivory.
Tony Long, Director at WWF European Policy Office said:
“Illegal wildlife traffic threatens the survival of unique animals such as rhinos and African Elephants, some of which are at risk of extinction. As a transit region for illegal wildlife goods en route from Africa to Asia, the EU has an international obligation to ensure adequate controls are in place to interdict the trafficking and ensure the criminal syndicates behind it are put out of action. The European Parliament needs to give a strong signal that we need to act now against it.”
“Improved collaboration with African countries is therefore crucial to halt the criminal activities at source, especially given the growing evidence of their links to civil conflicts and even terrorist activities that undermine national and global security”.
“The EU Commission’s recent commitment of €12.8 million to support better monitoring on the ground is one example of how the EU can help, while the forthcoming EU-Africa Summit provides an opportunity to build the effective collaboration between nations that is needed to tackle the global poaching crisis.”
Stephanie von Meibom, Director of TRAFFIC in Europe said:
“The European Parliament must send a strong message to the 28 Member States and to the EU Commission to take wildlife crime seriously and treat it as they would any serious crime”.
“We need more and better equipped Police and border Customs officers, higher consistent penalties for traffickers across the EU, and better collaboration and communication among Member States to protect wildlife and stop criminal trade.”
“It is imperative that all Members States live up to their responsibilities to police the wildlife trade: any point of weakness will be targeted by those determined to circumvent the law.”
WWF and TRAFFIC asks MEPs to lend their support to the following aspects of the Resolution:
• Improve national implementation and enforcement of EU regulations: ensure Member States fully implement the existing EU Wildlife Trade Regulations, improve investigations and border controls and adopt higher sanctions and penalties to make these commensurate with the seriousness of wildlife crime. Member States should establish multi-agency co-operative enforcement agencies that could include Police, Customs, environmental agencies and other specialized agencies.
• Increase EU efforts at regional and international level: within the EU, the work of the EU Enforcement Group and its collaboration with other relevant bodies such as Europol should be strengthened, to facilitate joint enforcement actions on wildlife trafficking and ensure effective intelligence gathering analysis and dissemination through systems such as EU TWIX . Externally, wildlife crime should be included as a priority in EU development aid programmes. The EU also needs to support international initiatives on illegal wildlife trade, such as the London Conference and Marrakech Declaration and highlight international wildlife trade at the UN General Assembly and UN Security Council levels.
• Coordinate efforts with key trade partners and international or regional organisations: The EU should lead high-level discussions in the framework of the forthcoming Africa EU Summit of 2014 in order to identify areas of joint action on wildlife crime within the next Joint Africa-EU Strategy 2014-2020. The EU Commission should also address wildlife trafficking issues through the Transatlantic Co-operation.
• Address growing demand for illicit wildlife products: The EU should lead and support effective and targeted campaigns within Member States and in key consumer countries, in particular Asia, to help curb the unsustainable demand for wildlife products.
• Improve governance: Strengthening of the judiciary in the EU is needed with better awareness, capacity and resources to ensure that prosecutions for illicit wildlife trafficking are conducted effectively and that wildlife criminals receive penalties commensurate with the seriousness of the crime.