EU Member States endorse Action Plan to tackle wildlife trafficking

Today, the Member States of the European Union declared their support to a coordinated effort to tackle wildlife crime by endorsement in the Environment Council of the European Commission’s EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking. This shows the commitment of Member States to fight wildlife crime as outlined in the 5-year (2016-2020) action plan.

IFAW welcomes this commitment by Member States to tackle wildlife trafficking, both nationally and across borders, and encourages the elevation of wildlife crime on the political agenda as a serious crime. 

For over three years, IFAW has campaigned for an Action Plan of the type that exists for other serious crimes such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, and terrorism in order to provide the necessary accountability, tools and framework to allow Europe to play a vital role in global efforts to tackle wildlife crime adequately. In this process, IFAW relied on the firm support of our supporters across Europe: lastly more than 36,700 of them wrote to their ministers to ask them to endorse the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking.

Wildlife trafficking is one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued around 15-billion Euros annually, ranking fourth globally in terms of value, behind the trafficking in drugs, people and counterfeiting. The trafficking of wildlife is not only a serious global environmental crime with profoundly negative impacts for endangered species protection and ecosystem stability, but it is also a real and increasing threat to national, regional and global security. Organized crime groups find wildlife trafficking attractive because of its low risks, high profits and weak penalties.

The EU acts as a market, transit route and source for wildlife trafficking. With wildlife crime reaching unprecedented levels; an elephant being killed for its ivory every 15 minutes, rhino population rapidly declining and many other animal species such as reptiles and birds disappearing, immediate and concerted action is needed.

With today’s endorsement, it is clear the European Commission and Member States are serious about fighting wildlife crime. The Council conclusions included further references to addressing cybercrime and illegal wildlife trade on the Dark Web, coordinating efforts with Europol, strengthening criteria for hunting trophy imports, and consideration of further measures to halt commercial trade in ivory.

IFAW will be actively monitoring and engaging with authorities going forward to ensure the Action Plan is implemented and progress effectively monitored. This landmark Action Plan begins a new chapter in the fight to save wildlife from illegal trade through coordinated action in Europe and abroad. 

Staci McLennan

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