General Market

Text adopted – EU action plan against wildlife trafficking – P8_TA-PROV(2016)0454 – Thursday, 24 November 2016 – Strasbourg – Provisional edition

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘The EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking’ (COM(2016)0087),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2014 on wildlife crime(1) ,

–  having regard to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), implemented in the EU through Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein, and Commission Regulation (EC) No 865/2006 laying down detailed rules concerning the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97,

–  having regard to Council Decision (EU) 2015/451 of 6 March 2015 concerning the accession of the European Union to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)(2) ,

–  having regard to the 2003 United Nations Convention against Corruption,

–  having regard to the 2000 United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime,

–  having regard to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention),

–  having regard to the 2016 World Wildlife Crime Report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC),

–  having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution 69/314 of 30 July 2015 on tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife,

–  having regard to UN Environment Assembly Resolution 2/14 on illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products,

–  having regard to the 2015-2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),

–  having regard to the International Consortium on combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), comprising CITES, Interpol, UNODC, the World Bank and the World Customs Organisation,

–  having regard to the Declaration signed at the 2014 London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade,

–  having regard to the 2016 Buckingham Palace Declaration on the prevention of wildlife trafficking in the transport sector,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market(3) , and to the Commission’s 2016 implementation report thereon,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 of 29 September 2008 establishing a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU)(4) ,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 605/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 June 2013 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1185/2003 on the removal of fins of sharks on board vessels(5) and Commission Regulation (EC) No 206/2009 of 5 March 2009(6) which allows the import of 20 kg of fish products for personal consumption,

–  having regard to the importance of the European Fisheries Control Agency, established by Council Regulation (EC) No 768/2005, in combating illegal capture and sale of aquatic species,

–  having regard to Directive 2008/99/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on the protection of the environment through criminal law(7) ,

–  having regard to Council Directive 1999/22/EC of 29 March 1999 relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos(8) ,

–  having regard to Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds(9) ,

–  having regard to Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora(10) ,

–  having regard to the study on wildlife crime published by its Policy Department for its Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety in March 2016,

–  having regard to the Natura 2000 network, which involves core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right,

–  having regard to the report of the 2014 EU Action to Fight Environmental Crime (EFFACE) research project,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 February 2016 on the fight against the financing of terrorism,

–  having regard to the report of the Secretary-General of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice of 4 March 2003 entitled ‘Illicit trafficking in protected species of wild flora and fauna and illicit access to genetic resources’,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 20 June 2016 on the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking,

–  having regard to the 2016 rapid response assessment by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Interpol entitled ‘The Rise of Environmental Crime’,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinions of the Committee on Development, the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on Fisheries and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0303/2016),

A.  whereas wildlife trafficking is an organised international crime which is estimated to be worth approximately EUR 20 billion annually and which has increased worldwide in recent years, becoming one of the biggest and most profitable forms of organised cross-border crime; whereas wildlife trafficking finances and is closely linked with other forms of serious and organised crime;

B.  whereas the loss of global biodiversity is serious, as it corresponds to the sixth wave of mass extinction of species;

C.  whereas global biodiversity and ecosystem services are under threat owing to land-use changes, unsustainable use of natural resources, pollution and climate change; whereas, in particular, many endangered species face greater challenges than before owing to rapid urbanisation, loss of habitat and the illegal wildlife trade;

D.  whereas wildlife trafficking has major negative impacts on biodiversity, existing ecosystems, the natural heritage of the countries of origin, natural resources and the conservation of species;

E.  whereas wildlife trafficking is a serious and growing threat to global security, political stability, economic development, local livelihoods and the rule of law, and therefore requires a strategic, coordinated EU approach involving all the actors concerned;

F.  whereas halting trafficking in endangered species of flora and fauna and products derived from them is essential in order to attain the UN’s sustainable development targets;

G.  whereas CITES is a major international agreement covering 35 000 animal and plant species, which has been in force since 1975 and signed by 183 parties (including all EU Member States and, since July 2015, the EU itself);

H.  whereas trade and development policies should, inter alia, serve as a means to improve respect for human rights, animal welfare and environmental protection;

I.  whereas the EU Trade in Wildlife Information Exchange (EU-TWIX) has been monitoring the illegal wildlife trade by creating a seizures database and channels of communication between officials across European countries since 2005;

J.  whereas lack of awareness and political engagement are major obstacles to combating wildlife trafficking effectively;

K.  whereas the EU Agenda on Security for 2015-2020 identifies wildlife crime as a form of organised crime that must be tackled at EU level by considering further criminal sanctions throughout the EU by means of a review of the existing legislation on environmental crime;

L.  whereas Operation COBRA III, conducted in May 2015, was the biggest ever coordinated international law enforcement operation targeting the illegal trade in endangered species and resulted in 139 arrests and more than 247 seizures, which included elephant ivory, medicinal plants, rhino horns, pangolins, rosewood, tortoises and many other plant and animal specimens;

M.  whereas the demand for illegal wildlife products in destination markets promotes corruption across the wildlife trafficking supply chain;

N.  whereas the EU is a significant destination market and transit route for illegal wildlife trade but also a source of trafficking in certain European endangered species of flora and fauna;

O.  whereas the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice resolution of April 2013, endorsed by the UN Economic and Social Council on 25 July 2013, encourages its ‘Member States to make illicit trafficking in protected species of wild fauna and flora involving organised criminal groups a serious crime’, thereby placing it on the same level as human trafficking and drug trafficking;

General remarks

1.  Welcomes the Commission’s Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, which highlights the need for coordinated actions to address the causes of wildlife trafficking, to implement and enforce existing rules effectively, and to strengthen global cooperation between source, transit and destination countries;

2.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States, the European External Action Service and the EU agencies Europol and Eurojust to recognise that wildlife crime is a serious and growing threat and to address it with the greatest political urgency; highlights the need for comprehensive and coordinated approaches across policy areas including trade, development, foreign affairs, transport and tourism, and justice and home affairs;

3.  Stresses that the identification and allocation of appropriate financial and human resources is essential for the implementation of the Action Plan; underlines the need to provide adequate financial resources in the EU budget and the national budgets in order to ensure effective implementation of this plan;

4.  Acknowledges the importance of the Action Plan, but stresses its shortcomings as regards the incorporation of aquatic species;

5.  Insists on the full and timely implementation of all elements of the Action Plan reflecting the urgent need to stop illegal and unsustainable practices and prevent further species decline; calls on the Commission to provide Parliament and the Council with yearly written implementation updates and to set up an ongoing detailed monitoring and evaluation mechanism to measure progress, including the actions taken by Member States;

6.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to better increase the protection of the habitats of target species and stresses that increased protection should be ensured for areas designated as Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems, Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas and Natura 2000 network sites;

7.  Calls on the Commission to establish a dedicated Wildlife Trafficking Coordinator’s office, mirroring the model used to fight human trafficking, in order to ensure a joined-up effort by different Commission services and the Member States;

8.  Reminds the Commission that many aquatic species are also in danger of being extinct, which will affect the sustainability of many ecosystems;

9.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to further develop scientific studies on technological adaptations of fishing gears in order to avoid bycatch, given the fact that a number of species, including turtles, are threatened by both bycatch and wild animal trafficking;

Preventing wildlife trafficking and addressing its root causes

10.  Calls for a targeted and coordinated series of awareness-raising campaigns by the EU, third countries, stakeholders and civil society with the aim of reducing demand related to the illegal trade in wildlife products through real and lasting individual and collective behavioural change; recognises the role civil society organisations can play in supporting the Action Plan;

11.  Calls on the EU to support initiatives promoting the development of alternative sustainable livelihoods for rural communities close to wildlife, which increase local benefits from conservation measures, minimise human-wildlife conflicts and promote wildlife as a valuable community income; believes that such initiatives, when taken in consultation with the communities concerned, will increase support for conservation and contribute to the recovery, conservation and sustainable management of wildlife populations and their habitats;

12.  Stresses that wildlife protection must be a key element in the EU’s global poverty-reduction strategies and calls for actions that enable local communities to benefit directly from engaging in wildlife protection to be included in the various cooperation agreements negotiated with third countries;

13.  Reminds the Commission that illegal trafficking in aquatic species also affects the economic development of coastal communities and the environmental suitability of our waters;

14.  Calls for the EU, as a matter of urgency, to address corruption and the shortcomings of international governance measures across the wildlife trafficking chain; calls for the EU and its Member States to engage with partner countries through the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and other fora to tackle the problem in source, transit and destination markets; calls on all Member States to fully comply with and effectively implement the provisions of UNCAC; welcomes the international commitment on counter-corruption under Article 10 of UN General Assembly Resolution 69/314 of July 2015;

15.  Recognises the need to provide assistance, guidance and training to authorities in source, transit and destination countries concerning investigation, enforcement and judicial procedures at local, regional and national level; underlines the need to coordinate these efforts in an efficient way among all agencies involved in this work; calls for the EU to support the exchange of best practices and to enable specialised equipment and expertise to be provided where necessary;

16.  Takes note of the Council conclusions on the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking of 20 June 2016, recognising that wildlife crime is a serious and growing threat to biodiversity and the environment but also to global security, the rule of law, human rights and sustainable development; strongly regrets the lack of clear commitments by the Member States; stresses the decisive role of the Member States in the full and coherent implementation of the Action Plan at national level and in delivering the objectives set out therein;

17.  Urges governments of the supply countries to: (i) improve the rule of law and create effective deterrents by strengthening criminal investigation, prosecution and sentencing; (ii) enact stronger laws treating illicit wildlife trafficking as a ‘serious crime’ deserving the same level of attention and gravity as other forms of transnational organised crime; (iii) allocate more resources to combating wildlife crime, particularly to strengthen wildlife law enforcement, trade controls, monitoring, and customs detection and seizure; (iv) commit to a zero-tolerance policy on corruption;

Making implementation and enforcement more effective

18.  Calls on the Member States to put in place wildlife trafficking action plans detailing enforcement policies and penalties, and to publish and exchange the information on seizures and arrests relating to wildlife crimes, in order to ensure consistency and harmonised approaches between Member States; supports the setting up of a mechanism to provide the Commission with regular data and information updates on seizures and arrests in the Member States and promote the sharing of best practice;

19.  Insists on the importance of the full implementation and enforcement of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations;

20.  Proposes that the penalties for wildlife trafficking, especially in areas with vulnerable marine ecosystems or falling within the Natura 2000 network, should be sufficiently severe as to deter potential offenders;

21.  Urges the Member States to ensure that enforcement agencies, prosecution services and national judiciaries have the necessary financial and human resources and appropriate expertise to combat wildlife crime; strongly encourages the Commission and the Member States to increase their efforts to train and raise the awareness of all relevant agencies and institutions;

22.  Welcomes the efforts of the European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL), the European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment (ENPE), the EU Forum of Judges for the Environment (EUFJE) and the network of police officers focusing on tackling environmental crime (EnviCrimeNet);

23.  Notes the inclusion of illegal wildlife trade in the EU Agenda for Security 2015-2020, which recognises that the illegal trade in wildlife threatens biodiversity in source regions, sustainable development and regional stability;

24.  Suggests that Member States invest the proceeds from fines imposed for trafficking in the protection and conservation of wild flora and fauna;

25.  Calls for a step change in intelligence-gathering, law-making and law enforcement, and in the fight against corruption, in relation to wildlife trafficking in the Member States and other destination and transit countries; calls, therefore, on the Commission to pay very close attention to these aspects of administrating and monitoring the enforcement of international standards in relation to wildlife trafficking;

26.  Stresses that in order to avoid the ‘migration’ of wildlife criminal networks, the harmonisation of policies and legal frameworks with respect to wildlife crime is particularly important;

27.  Underlines the need for improved inter-agency cooperation and for functioning and timely data sharing between national and EU-level implementation and enforcement agencies; calls for the creation of strategic enforcement networks at both EU and Member State level in order to facilitate and improve such cooperation; calls on all the Member States to establish wildlife crime units to facilitate implementation across the various agencies;

28.  Calls on the Member States to provide Europol with continuous and relevant intelligence and data; urges Europol to consider wildlife crime in the next EU Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA); calls for the establishment of a specialised Wildlife Crime Unit within Europol, with transnational powers and responsibilities and sufficient financial and human resources, enabling centralised information and analysis and coordinated enforcement strategies and investigations;

29.  Calls on the Commission to promote the EU-TWIX system as a proven and well-functioning tool for Member States to share data and information, and to ensure a long-term financial commitment to it; believes that civil society organisations can play an important role in monitoring enforcement and reporting on wildlife crime; calls for further cooperation from the EU and the Member States to support such efforts by NGOs;

30.  Notes the links between wildlife crime and other forms of organised crime, including money laundering and the financing of militias and terrorist groups, and considers international cooperation for the combating of illicit financial flows to be a priority; calls for the EU and the Member States to use all relevant instruments, including cooperation with the financial sector, and to monitor and carry out research on the effects of emerging financial products and practices that are involved in this activity;

31.  Urges the Member States to fully implement the provisions of Directive 2008/99/EC on the protection of the environment through criminal law and to set appropriate levels of sanctions for wildlife crime offences; is concerned that some Member States have not yet fully implemented the directive and calls on the Commission to assess the implementation in each Member State, especially in terms of penalties, and to provide guidance; calls on the Commission to undertake a review of Directive 2008/99/EC, in particular with regard to its effectiveness in combating wildlife crime, within the time frame set out in the EU Agenda for Security, and to make a proposal to revise it as appropriate; calls on the Commission to take steps towards establishing and implementing common minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions relating to wildlife trafficking, pursuant to Article 83(1) TFEU on particularly serious crime with a cross-border dimension;

32.  Considers that the customs dimension of the Action Plan should be further highlighted, with regard to both cooperation with partner countries and better and more effective implementation within the Union; looks forward, therefore, to the Commission’s 2016 review of the implementation and enforcement of the EU’s current legal framework, and asks for this review to include an assessment of customs procedures;

33.  Urges the Member States to effectively implement and comply with the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) as a basis for international action and mutual legal assistance and as a key step towards a common coordinated approach to combating wildlife crime; deeply regrets, in this connection, the fact that eleven Member States have not yet implemented UNTOC; calls on the Member States in question to implement the Convention as soon as possible;

34.  Considers that action against wildlife crime requires consistent, effective and dissuasive criminal penalties; urges the Member States to define wildlife trafficking as a serious crime in accordance with Article 2(b) of UNTOC;

35.  Recognises the need for guidance on prosecution and sentencing for Member State judiciaries and prosecutors and the need for training for customs and enforcement officers at entry points into the EU; considers UNEP’s ‘Global Judges Programme’ and the ‘Green Customs Initiative’ partnership as models to follow;

36.  Calls on the Commission, the relevant EU agencies and the Member States to recognise the scale of online wildlife trafficking and to build capacity within environmental crime and customs units, coordination with cybercrime units, and engagement with civil society organisations, in order to ensure that channels exist to trigger assistance from cross-border units specialised in cybercrime;

37.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to engage with the operators of social media platforms, search engines and e-commerce platforms on the problem of the illegal internet trade in wildlife; calls on the Commission and the Member States to strengthen control measures and to develop policies to address potential illegal activity on the internet; in this regard, calls on the Commission to develop guidelines on how to address the problem of online wildlife crime at EU level;

38.  Calls on EU and Member State enforcement agencies to identify and monitor the patterns of other forms of serious and organised crime, such as human trafficking, in order to aid prevention activities and the investigation of irregularities in the supply chain when tackling wildlife trafficking, for example suspicious shipments and financial transactions;

39.  Welcomes the fact that the EU participated in COP17 for the first time as a party to CITES and welcomes the fact that the EU and the Member States demonstrate strong dedication and provide substantial financial support for CITES;

40.  Welcomes UNEP’s expert review process, which is seeking to create a universally recognised definition of environmental crime; in this regard, notes that the legal boundaries between different types of environmental crimes are sometimes unclear, which can reduce opportunities for effective prosecution and punishment;

Strengthening the global partnership

41.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to step up dialogue and cooperation with source, transit and destination countries in the wildlife trafficking supply chain and to provide them with technical and economic assistance and diplomatic support; believes that the EU must act at international level to support third countries in combating wildlife trafficking and contribute to the further development of necessary legal frameworks through bilateral and multilateral agreements;

42.  Highlights that widespread corruption, institutional weaknesses, state erosion, mismanagement and weak penalties for wildlife crime are major challenges that need to be addressed if transnational wildlife trafficking is to be combated effectively; urges the EU to support developing countries in their efforts to reduce poaching incentives by improving economic opportunities and promoting good governance and the rule of law;

43.  Calls on the EU institutions, the Member States and all states concerned to investigate more systematically the links between wildlife trafficking and regional conflicts and terrorism;

44.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to establish a trust fund or similar facility under Article 187 of the revised Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the Union, with the objective of safeguarding protected areas and combating wildlife trafficking and poaching, as part of the Action Plan against wildlife trafficking;

45.  Calls on the EU to upgrade the financial and technical support, provided through the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) and the European Development Fund (EDF), aimed at helping developing countries implement national wildlife regulations in line with CITES recommendations, particularly for those with insufficient resources to enforce legislation and prosecute smugglers;

46.  Calls on the Commission to consider funding under the Partnership Instrument for initiatives aimed at reducing demand for illicit wildlife products in key markets, in line with Priority 1 of the Action Plan; highlights that the involvement of civil society in the monitoring structures under the trade and sustainable development chapters of EU trade agreements can make significant contributions in this regard;

47.  Stresses the importance of addressing, in the context of the EU-China Strategic Partnership, the sensitive issue of the growing demand for wildlife products, such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and tiger bones, which represents a real threat to the conservation of the species concerned and to biodiversity in general;

48.  Calls on the Commission to include mandatory and enforceable sustainable development chapters in all EU trade agreements and negotiations, with specific reference to halting illegal trade in wildlife in all economic sectors, and calls on the Commission to include analyses of these provisions in its implementation reports; urges the Commission to emphasise the implementation of CITES and measures against wildlife crime in the GSP+ trade scheme;

49.  Notes that corruption is one of the main enablers and contributors to the trade in illegal wildlife and wildlife products; welcomes the commitment made in the Commission strategy entitled ‘Trade for All’ to include ambitious anti-corruption provisions to tackle the direct and indirect impact of both corruption and wildlife trafficking in all future trade agreements; requests, therefore, that the Commission pay the utmost attention to the facets of administration and monitoring of the enforcement of international standards in relation to wildlife trafficking;

50.  Calls on the EU to explore, within the scope of the WTO framework, how global trade and environmental regimes can better support each other, especially in the context of ongoing work on strengthening coherence between the WTO and Multilateral Environmental Agreements, as well as in light of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which opens up new avenues for cooperation between customs and wildlife and trade officials, especially in developing countries; considers that further opportunities for cooperation between the WTO and CITES should be explored, in particular in terms of offering technical assistance and capacity-building on trade and environment matters to officials from developing countries;

51.  Underlines the key role of international cooperation by the organisations in the enforcement chain; calls on the EU and the Member States to continue to support the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC); welcomes any strengthening of this support, including through the provision of financial resources and specialist expertise, in order to facilitate capacity-building, promote the exchange of information and intelligence and support enforcement and compliance; calls on the Commission to use ICCWC indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of EU funding to third countries in support of actions against wildlife trafficking and to facilitate a uniform and credible assessment of development funding;

52.  Welcomes international law enforcement operations such as Operation COBRA III, which result in significant seizures of illegal wildlife products and arrests of traffickers and provide increased public visibility of wildlife trafficking as a serious organised crime;

53.  Calls on the Member States to reinforce the CITES budget so that the organisation can expand its monitoring activity and species designation; in this regard, regrets that six Member States still have outstanding payments from the years 1992 to 2015 to be made to CITES;

54.  Welcomes also the fact that the EU Action Plan makes a major contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, agreed by heads of state at a UN summit in September 2015;

EU as a destination market, source and transit point

55.  Notes that CITES, the EU Timber Regulation and the EU IUU regulatory framework are important tools for regulating international wildlife trade; is concerned, however, about the lack of proper implementation and enforcement and calls on Member States to step up their joint and coordinated efforts to ensure effective implementation; is concerned, furthermore, about gaps in the current regulatory framework with regard to species and actors; calls, therefore, for the EU to review the existing legislative framework with a view to supplementing it with a prohibition on the making available and placing on the market, transport, acquisition and possession of wildlife that has been illegally harvested or traded in third countries; considers that such legislation could harmonise the existing EU framework and that the transnational impact of such legislation could play a key role in reducing global wildlife trafficking; in this respect, highlights that such legislation must provide full transparency regarding any trade prohibitions of species based on their illegal status in a third country in order to ensure legal certainty for those involved in legal trade;

56.  Underlines that trophy hunting has contributed to large-scale declines in endangered species listed in CITES Appendices I and II and urges the Commission and the Member States to establish a precautionary approach for the import of hunting trophies from species protected under the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations, to support the further strengthening of the EU’s legal provisions governing the import of hunting trophies into EU Member States, and to require permits for the import of trophies of all species listed in Annex B to Regulation (EC) No 338/97;

57.  Welcomes the 2016 Buckingham Palace Declaration, in which signatories from airlines, shipping firms, port operators, customs agencies, intergovernmental organisations and conservation charities commit to raising standards across the transport sector with a focus on information sharing, staff training, technological improvements, and resource sharing across companies and organisations worldwide; calls on all parties to fully implement the commitments of the Declaration; encourages the Member States to promote voluntary commitments similar to the Buckingham Palace Declaration in other areas, in particular the financial and e-commerce sectors;

58.  Calls for the full and immediate ban at European level of trade, export or re-export within the EU and to destinations outside the EU of ivory, including ‘pre-Convention’ ivory, and rhino horns; calls for the establishment of a mechanism to assess the need for similar restrictions for other endangered species;

59.  Notes that the EU regulation to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing has made an impact, but insists that implementation should be more robust in order to ensure that no illegal fish enter the European market; suggests that the EU Member States should be more consistent and effective in checks of catch documentation (catch certificates) and consignments (in particular from countries judged as high-risk) in order to ensure that fish have been caught legally;

60.  Highlights the importance of the private sector’s involvement in the fight against wildlife trafficking by means of self-regulation and through corporate social responsibility; considers traceability in the supply chain essential for legal and sustainable trade, whether commercial or non-commercial; highlights the need for cooperation and coordination at international level as well as between the public and private sectors and calls on the EU to strengthen the existing control instruments, including the use of traceability mechanisms; considers that the transport sector should play a pivotal role, for example by implementing an early warning detection system; notes the important role public-private partnerships can play in this regard;

61.  Calls, in addition to border checks required under Regulation (EC) No 338/97, for Member States to introduce in-country compliance monitoring with regular checks on traders and permit holders such as pet shops, breeders, research centres and nurseries, and including monitoring of trades such as fashion, art, medicine and catering, that may use illegal plant and animal parts;

62.  Calls on the Member States to ensure the immediate confiscation of any seized specimens and the care and re-homing of seized or confiscated live specimens at animal rescue centres appropriate to the species; calls on the Commission to provide guidance to ensure that all wildlife rescue centres used by the Member States are of adequate standard; calls, furthermore, on the EU and the Member States to ensure adequate financing of animal rescue centres;

63.  Calls on the Member States to adopt national plans for the handling of live confiscated specimens in line with Annex 3 to CITES Resolution Conference 10.7 (Rev. CoP15); stresses that Member States should report all seized live specimens to EU-TWIX and that annual summary reports should be published, and that Member States should ensure that the training of enforcement officers includes welfare and safety considerations for the handling of live animals; calls on the EU and the Member States to commit adequate financial support to wildlife rescue centres;

64.  Calls on the Member States to consider ‘positive list’ species systems, whereby exotic species are assessed objectively and according to scientific criteria for their safety and suitability for trading and keeping as pets;

o   o

65.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0031.
(2) OJ L 75, 19.3.2015, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 295, 12.11.2010, p. 23.
(4) OJ L 286, 29.10.2008, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 181, 29.6.2013, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 77, 24.3.2009, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 328, 6.12.2008, p. 28.
(8) OJ L 94, 9.4.1999, p. 24.
(9) OJ L 20, 26.1.2010, p. 7.
(10) OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7.
General Market

Elephant ivory trade in Australian auction houses in eight months worth $635,204

Elephant ivory trade in Australian auction houses in eight months worth $635,204

  • One of 200 elephants slaughtered for their tusks in Cameroon during a killing spree in 2012. Photo: IFAW

    One of 200 elephants slaughtered for their tusks in Cameroon during a killing spree in 2012. Photo: IFAW

  • Decorative ivory tusks on an online auction catalogue.

    Decorative ivory tusks on an online auction catalogue.

  • A pregnant elephant which was speared to death by poachers in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Photo: Evan Mkala

    A pregnant elephant which was speared to death by poachers in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Photo: Evan Mkala

  • “Once you put an economic value on ivory, it tells criminal poachers to continue to exploit animals:” Rebecca Keeble, IFAW.

The first ever comprehensive investigation into the sale of ivory and rhino horn in Australian and New Zealand auction houses has found the trade is flourishing despite fewer than 1 in 10 items being properly documented.

Ivory has soared in global value in the past decade, largely due to a growing middle class in Asian countries, where ivory products are prized as status symbols.

Leonard Joel, Lawsons, Bargain Hunt Auctions and Vickers and Hoad were among 17 Australian auction houses surveyed between October 2014 and June 2015, a period in which more than 1000 lots containing ivory valued between $10 and $70,000 were investigated.

The lots contained around 2409 items; including carvings and figures, jewellery, decorative objects and raw and carved tusks.

There are no laws banning domestic trade in Australia but under international rules, no elephant specimens can be imported for personal or commercial uses, except for scientific research or under a certificate proving the specimen predates 1975.

Rebecca Keeble, senior policy and campaigns officer for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said compliance with the rules was extremely low.

“Our investigation found only 8 per cent of sale items had the correct provenance documentation,” she said.

“It is almost impossible to determine if ivory is pre-1975, by sight alone. And in some cases, illegal ivory is deliberately marked, cracked or stained, to appear older.”

Among the Australian auction houses investigated, Leonard Joel had the highest number of ivory lots for sale at 300, followed by Lawsons, with 188 lots, and David Barsby, with 156.

The highest price achieved at an auction in the period was $30,000, for a pair of tusks sold by Vickers and Hoad.

“What was most significant was that 78 per cent of those items were purchased … so the market is there,” Ms Keeble said. Her organisation is calling for an end to commercial trade.

“Once you put an economic value on ivory, it tells criminal poachers to continue to exploit animals.”

According to IFAW, one African elephant is killed every 15 minutes, while fewer than 30,000 rhinos are estimated to be alive today.

At Bargain Hunt Auctions in Sydney’s north-west, owner Mark Hunt has been met by vendors attempting to sell elephant tusks as recently as two weeks ago.

“We see products coming in on a weekly basis. About a year ago we were offered $1.5 million worth of ivory in a deceased estate house clearance, there were bathtubs literally full of four-foot-long tusks.”

Mr Owens said he decided to stop selling whole ivory carvings and products around five years ago, however he does sell goods with “extremely small” ivory components.

“For many years we sold ivory carvings and we did the wrong thing. People aren’t breaking the law by selling it, but it is a grey area which needs stricter legislation.”

International trade of more than 35,000 endangered species, including elephants and rhinos, is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), of which there are 183 member countries.

Fairfax Media is not suggesting that any of the auction houses named have traded illegal ivory products.

Owner and director of Vickers and Hoad Colin Vickers said that the value of ivory in Australia had dropped 50 per cent in the last five years proved demand was declining.

He was critical of the IFAW report, arguing that the fund was “trying to blame someone for what was happening in Africa”.

“The law says we have a statutory declaration that we give the vendor to sign, telling us how they acquired the piece. We don’t take anything unless someone is willing to sign that,” he said.

Mr Vickers has proposed a scheme in which a vendor pays a resale royalty for any legal ivory products sold, to be donated towards elephant conservation.

At Raffan, Kelaher and Thomas auctions, if an item’s authenticity cannot be verified, it is not accepted.

“But you can’t stop all ivory,” said specialist Rosemary Nunes-Silva. “A lot of ivory tells the history and customs of people. These are exquisite items that are passed on as a salute to human nature, ingenuity and art practice.”

During the investigation period, Lawsons (Sydney) listed a pair of black rhinoceros horns (with provenance documentation), which were subsequently withdrawn from sale, following public pressure.

The story Elephant ivory trade in Australian auction houses in eight months worth $635,204 first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

General Information

Making Nuclear More Effective in Support of Sustainable Development: Conclusions of the 2016 Scientific Forum

Nuclear technology can help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and its effects will be more tangible if integrated into broader development strategies.  This was the key message of this year’s Scientific Forum, ‘Nuclear Technology for the Sustainable Development Goals’. The two-day event highlighted concrete examples of the contribution of nuclear and isotopic techniques to health, food security, energy and the environment.

Several keynote speakers, including HSH Prince Albert of Monaco and Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel, joined IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano in recognizing  the important contribution of nuclear science and technology in helping countries meet the SDGs — a range of objectives that the United Nations General Assembly agreed on in 2015 to stimulate action in areas of critical importance for people and the planet.

This article summarizes the takeaways from the five thematic sessions. The presentations are available here.

Radiation medicine to fight cancer, cardio-vascular diseases

Investing in equipment and human resources as well as establishing adequate policies are required to close the gap between the demand for, and access to, radiation medicine, speakers at the session concluded.

“Radiotherapy is an effective treatment that saves one million lives globally each year,” said Mary Gospodarowicz, Medical Director at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Research indicates that investing in radiotherapy would yield a significant return in terms of numbers of lives saved, she added.

Kenji Shibuya, a professor at the University of Tokyo, said world leaders should work to lift the burden of non-communicable diseases. “This should be a top priority on their agenda,” he added.

As to ensuring adequate health care, Alistair McGuire of the London School of Economics said this would require new financial models in the public sector. However, while start-up costs of nuclear medicine are high, technology is cost-effective and highly accurate once set up, and it can save millions of lives, said Carlos Buchpiguel, Professor at São Paulo University.

Better nutrition, safer food and more agricultural production

“In order to end hunger everywhere, we must enhance food production where food is needed,” said Kostas Stamoulis, Assistant Director General at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). “Cross-cutting solutions and strong commitment to multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder partnerships are needed to sustainably manage agricultural development.”

The speakers also agreed that the transfer of knowledge and skills across borders plays a key role in ensuring global food security. “Transboundary animal diseases can come to your country, impacting people’s lives,” said Chandapiwa Marobela-Raborokgwe, Director of Botswana’s National Veterinary Laboratory. “In this case, benchmarking with other countries using nuclear techniques that can help improve animal health is essential.”

Emorn Udomkesmalee, Associate Professor at Mahidol University’s Institute of Nutrition in Thailand, explained how isotopic techniques helped enhance the diet quality of the population and monitor its progress.

Safe nuclear power to address climate change and increase in electricity demand

Combatting climate change will be difficult without expansion of nuclear energy, panellists agreed.

“There is a large scale demand for low-carbon electricity,” said World Nuclear Association’s Director General Agneta Rising. “Nuclear has to double or triple to meet this demand. All countries that managed to decarbonize their electricity are using nuclear.”

“Nuclear is very much affordable if we look at the whole life of a power plant,” highlighted Fiona Reilly, Executive Partner at the Atlantic Superconnection Corporation.

The lessons learned from past accidents have been integrated into existing regulations, and operating reactors will even be stronger with the new generation of reactors, said Leonid Bolshov, Director of Russia’s Nuclear Safety Institute.

New reactor types, including Small Modular Reactors, also provide a promising, safe and economical technology, added Leslie Dewan, CEO of Transatomic Power in the United States.   

Understanding and preserving the environment with isotopic techniques

The Forum’s session on natural resources stressed the importance of government support for the development and implementation of nuclear and isotopic techniques in protecting our natural resources.  Many countries are facing more environment-related problems than ever, which may be addressed with the help of nuclear techniques.

Fiji is a good example of a country that can greatly benefit from nuclear science and technology to protect its fragile coast, said Osea Naiqamu, Minister for Fisheries and Forests.

Using nuclear techniques can also help countries with little water, such as Sudan, where women farmers were taught how to use water efficiently to produce crops, enabling them to step out of poverty. “Support from the IAEA and other international organizations was a key success factor,” said Project Coordinator Imad Babiker. 

Sustainable transfer of nuclear science and technology for peaceful use

Countries – particularly in the developing world – often struggle to secure the start-up capital of larger infrastructure projects, such as nuclear medicine, radiotherapy centres and power plants. They also need to ensure that they keep the skills required to operate these facilities. A key message from this session was that political will, cooperation between developing countries, innovation, smart financing models and adapting technology to conditions in low-income countries can help overcome these problems and build capacity. The panellists called for the development of partnerships across borders and sectors to achieve the sustainable development agenda by 2030 and the integration of nuclear science and technology into national development strategies.

As a follow up to this year’s Scientific Forum, the IAEA will hold the first International Conference on the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme in May 2017. The conference will help to assess how the Agency can best contribute to development and the achievement of the SDGs.