French biodiversity bill adopted; online wildlife crime fines increased significantly

After two long years of discussion, the deputies of the French National Assembly finally adopted the bill for the restoration of biodiversity, nature, and landscapes.  

Having followed the debates held throughout this process of securing a better legislative framework for online wildlife trade, we can now confirm that an explicit reference to e-commerce will appear in the Environmental Code.

This change is expected to improve awareness of the threat that this trade poses and thus improve the enforcement of sanctions for online sales.

Furthermore, the powers of law enforcement agencies in the fight against wildlife cybercrime will be strengthened, notably thanks to the use of more advanced investigative techniques (such as participation in electronic exchanges under a pseudonym and the ability to acquire specimens in order to collect evidence of offense). All of this demonstrates a desire to fight illicit online trade more effectively. 

This is a positive change in legislation, but we must now ensure that these measures are properly implemented. We need to further develop the regulatory framework and impose certain requirements on buyers, sellers, and online shopping sites so that they do their part in the fight against illicit wildlife trade. That is why we will continue to fight for these measures.

Attempts of certain lobby groups wanting to reduce the proposed sanctions for crimes against wildlife have failed. In the end, the increase in both financial and criminal sanctions was upheld.

Consequently, any act committed by an individual will be punishable by a fine of up to €150,000 (previously €15,000) and two years' imprisonment (presently one year's imprisonment); if the crime was committed by an organized group, the fine will increase to up to €750,000 (currently €150,000). 

On the whole, this is good news that indicates that protected species-related crime is increasingly being seen as a serious offense that needs to be regulated by appropriate sanctions.  

--MC 

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