Ahead of the global UN meeting on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Panama which begins on November 14th, the European Parliament voted today to approve strategic objectives to improve the global protection of at-risk species.
According to a statement from the assembly, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) want to go further than reduce illegal trade of CITES-listed wildlife species and eliminate it altogether by 2025. A move the MEPs deem necessary because of the threat presented by the wildlife trade to individual animals and species, as well as to human and animal health and the environment.
Parliament also expressed a concern that the market for exotic pets and the range of affected species being traded are growing both in the EU and internationally.
The resolution calls on all countries to significantly improve their enforcement of the UN Convention, as the current application of bans and restrictions on the trade in protected species is inadequate due to lack of resources. To successfully combat the involvement of organized criminal groups, MEPs believe that transnational wildlife crime should be recognized as serious organized crime under the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.
Parliament calls on the EU to review and expand the existing legislation regulating wildlife trade to make it illegal to import, export, sell, acquire or buy wild animals that are taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of the law of the country of origin or transit.
They also want dissuasive sanctions in cases of non-compliance, urgent action to ban the import of “hunting trophies” of CITES-listed species, and the creation of a science-based EU-wide approved list of animals allowed as pets. Only animals where trade does not cause harm to wild populations and to European biodiversity should be on the list.
MEPs welcome the renewed commitment to the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking but stress the need for adequate funding and clear and implementable targets and actions, as well as a monitoring and evaluation mechanism. They also underline the need to tackle both online and offline trade in the revised Action Plan.