EU parliament votes to stop wildlife crime
The European Parliament today voted for an EU Resolution on Wildlife Crime. The resolution, if heeded, could place the EU at the forefront in combatting one of the world’s most insidious biological tragedies. The illegal trade in wildlife products is estimated to be worth USD 19 billion and the fourth largest illegal activity in the world, after drug trafficking, counterfeiting and human trafficking.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - www.ifaw.org) welcomes this vote by the European Parliament.
“The European Parliament has given the EU Commission and Member States a clear mandate to develop an Action Plan with a funded Trust Fund to combat the global scourge of wildlife crime,” said Satyen Sinha, IFAW EU policy officer. “This resolution comes in response to the dramatic increase in poaching we have seen over recent years with the cost of many wildlife products worth more than their weight in gold.”
The resolution follows IFAW’s long standing recommendation to fully implement Commission Recommendation No 2007/425/EC. This recommendation identifies a set of actions for the enforcement of trade in endangered species with the EU, including the establishment of National Action Plans, tougher penalties, more resources and training for enforcers, prosecutors and the judiciary.
Recent examples have shown how member state laws, prosecution and sentencing of those accused of wildlife trafficking are inadequate. In March 2013 in Ireland, two rhino horn dealers were find just 500 euros each for illegally smuggling eight rhino horns, valued at an estimated 500,000 euros on the black market; a pitiful penalty for such a serious crime.
In 2013 a record 41 tonnes of illegal ivory were seized – the highest total in 25 years. Elephants are under threat like never before. Rhinos in South Africa have been slaughtered at unprecedented levels. Ten years ago just a few dozen were killed per year whereas in in 2013 almost 1000 were killed.
Concretely the resolution calls on Member States and the EU Commission to:
- Establish an EU plan of action against wildlife crime and trafficking with clear deliverables and timelines
- Calls for the destruction of ivory stockpiles by EU member states
- Increase the rate of prosecution and punishments for those involved in wildlife trafficking
- Establish a Wildlife Crime Unit within Europol
- Fully implement the recommendations in ‘Project WEB’ a joint Interpol/IFAW initiative to combat online wildlife trafficking
- Implement an EU ban on ivory sales