RAPAPORT… A Presidential Task Force that was created to preserve wildlife released its implementation plan for a “National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking.” The task force was created through an presidential executive order on July 1, 2013 that is led by the Departments of State, Justice and the Interior, and includes 14 additional federal departments and agencies, to develop a government-wide strategy to fight poaching and other wildlife trafficking. The White House stated that wildlife trafficking has become an international crisis that threatens security, hinders sustainable economic development and undermines the rule of law, while the illicit trade is decimating iconic species, such as rhinoceroses, elephants and tigers — threatening these animals with extinction.
The implementation plan also builds upon a strategy, issued by President Obama on February 11, 2014 and reaffirms a commitment to work in partnership with governments, local communities, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to stem the illegal trade of these animals for jewelry and other products.
“Illegal wildlife trafficking has become one of the most profitable types of transnational organized crime and its impact has been devastating,” said the assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, John C. Cruden. “Wildlife trafficking threatens security, undermines the rule of law, fuels corruption, hinders sustainable economic development and contributes to the spread of disease. This illicit trade is decimating many species worldwide and some, like rhinoceroses, elephants and tigers, face extinction in our lifetimes if we do not reverse this trend. The Justice Department is committed to its role in President Obama’s national strategy to combat wildlife trafficking, both by enforcing our nation’s wildlife laws like the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act and by working closely with other federal agencies to assist our foreign partners’ enforcement efforts.”
Incorporating recommendations from the Secretary of the Interior’s Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking, the framework will guide new and ongoing efforts with three objectives: strengthening enforcement, reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife and expanding international cooperation. The plan outlines subsequent steps, identifies lead and participating agencies for each objective, and defines how progress will be measured.
Some of these steps will include continuing efforts to implement and enforce administrative actions to strengthen controls over the elephant ivory trade in the U.S.; leveraging global partnerships to reduce demand both domestically and abroad; and strengthening enforcement capacity, cooperation and partnerships with counterparts in other countries.
The White House noted, too, that the U.S. is using trade agreements and policy to press for groundbreaking commitments on wildlife trafficking and wildlife conservation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) with 11 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region and the Transatlantic Partnership Agreement (T-TIP) with the European Union. These commitments would be fully enforceable, including through the implementation of trade sanctions, with far-reaching benefits for species such as rhinos, sharks and pangolins.
Read the 14-page strategy document here.