'So where do you see yourself in five years?' - The EU Action Plan on tackling wildlife crime.
This week the European commission adopted an EU Action Plan on tackling Wildlife Crime. It comes 7 months after the EU joined the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in July 2015.
The plans three main aims, as outlined by European Commissioner Karmenu Vella, are:
- Greater enforcement - wildlife crime to be handled as a serious crime under the United Nations' Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, with tougher sentencing creating a significant deterrent.
- Better cooperation - sharing resources and intelligence across international borders, strengthening the links of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime, to take down organized crime groups.
- and more effective prevention - including at both the supply and the demand end of the chain.
Historically seen as a low level crime by law enforcement, with only administrative fines issued, the focus of the plan to raise wildlife crime to a serious crime echoes the commitments signed by many of the EU Member States at the London Declaration back in 2014. Now, putting words into action, all EU Member States are urged to review their national laws and close loopholes utilized by criminal networks.
The EU has an important role in the solution to wildlife crime, supporting range states financially and improving conservation efforts, but, Commissioner Vella also pointed out that the EU is a problematic piece of the puzzle in global wildlife trafficking. European airports have recently been used as a transit point for many wildlife derivatives, from elephant ivory to pangolin scales and more, and with its unique species it is also acts as a source to illicit markets.
With 32 measures to be implemented from 2016 to 2020, this ambitious plan has been met with much praise and support, but will need to be monitored closely to stay on track.
#EUWildlife #InOurHands #WWD2016
UPDATE: June 2016, 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.