The European Parliament today adopted with an overwhelming majority an own-initiative report by Catherine Bearder MEP on the EU Action Plan Against Wildlife Trafficking.
The European Parliament’s Report aims to ensure effective implementation and enforcement of the EU Action Plan, calling Member States to act coherently and then more efficiently against wildlife trafficking.
Illegal wildlife trade has escalated exponentially in recent years, and has attracted the involvement of organised criminal networks as a result of it being considered a low risk – high return activity. The risk of detection is low and the financial reward is high, attracting criminal gangs to exploit illegally caught wildlife.
The European Union is not only a major destination market for illegal wildlife products, but also serves as a transit hub for trafficking to other regions. The European Parliament’s report adopted today focuses on how the EU and Members States should step up their efforts to combat wildlife trafficking. By adopting this Report, the European Parliament demonstrates once more the importance it attaches to the protection of endangered species.
“We enthusiastically welcome the adoption of this Report” says Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals, “that calls upon the EU and its Member States to ensure effective implementation and enforcement of the EU Action Plan and to address the trade in illegally collected wildlife products sold as legal commodities, like exotic pets. We are proud to see the Report explicitly calls upon EU Member States to establish a positive list of exotic animals that can be kept as pets – a key tenet of Eurogroup for Animals’ and AAP’s joint “THINK POSITIVE” campaign “.
Many EU countries have worked for decades with negative lists to regulate the trade and keeping of exotic pets on their territories. However, evidence from Belgium has demonstrated that a positive list is more effective in reaching those results because such a list requires less bureaucracy and updating and has a preventive approach at its core.
Eurogroup for Animal’s “THINK POSITIVE” campaign has booked more results recently with the adoption of positive lists in the Netherlands. More countries like Luxembourg, Finland and Lithuania have already expressed an interest in exploring if such a list would help them better control the trade and keeping of exotic animals as pets.
Importantly, the Report also calls for the full and immediate ban of trade, export or re-export within the EU and to destinations outside the EU of ivory, including ivory acquired prior to CITES Convention entering into force. “The EU continues to be the largest exporter of ivory claimed to be “pre-Convention” to Asia”
Ms Hameleers says. “Legal domestic markets of “pre-convention” ivory should be immediately closed, as serve as a cover for illicit trade, including within the EU”. The European Parliament’s call is also in line with the recent IUCN motion and CITES resolution.
Finally, the Parliament’s report also recognises the important role of rescue centres in rescuing a growing number of exotic animals in Europe. To ensure the continuation of this important work, the Parliament called on the EU and Member States to ensure their adequate financing.