EU Parliament demands greater action for comprehensive wildlife protection
Today the European Parliament voted in favour of a Resolution on wildlife crime which calls for increased EU action to end the illegal trade in wildlife products both within the EU and worldwide.
The Resolution comes in response to the dramatic increase in poaching we have seen over recent years. The butchering of our natural wildlife heritage has reached record proportions, with the cost of many derivative animal products being worth more than their weight in gold.
I'm especially pleased that the Resolution is its call for the establishment of an Action Plan against wildlife trafficking – a long held IFAW recommendation – but also for the establishment of a trust fund of sufficient size to provide support to range states in their fight against the traffickers and poachers.
Internal EU Action
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 fined 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.
International EU Action
The report specifically calls for EU support for the establishment and implementation of wildlife enforcement networks, such as the one IFAW is supporting in the Horn of Africa. It also calls for greater diplomatic support to identify areas of joint action between the EU and African countries, as well as with other partners such as the US through the use of its trade agreements.
Illegal trade over the internet
The Parliament has also given its full backing for the IFAW/INTERPOL report, Project Web, an investigation into the online trade in ivory. The surveillance operation found that in the 10 participating countries, auction sites were found to hold an estimated total volume of around 4,500 kilograms of ivory and a total value of approximately EUR 1,450,000 over the two week operation. Through this Resolution, the parliament has called on the Commission to implement all the recommendations of this report.
The Parliament has once again shown its commitment to combating illegal wildlife trafficking and its support in the fight against the poachers. However, the real power lies with the EU Member States and the European Commission.
Over the next few months important negotiations will take place. This will begin with a summit on wildlife crime in London, and include vital negotiations over the EU’s funding for Africa.
Those charged with these negotiations must take on the recommendations of the European Parliament and ensure that they afford endangered species the protection which they deserve.