European Union publishes Action Plan on tackling wildlife crime
Brussels, Belgium, 26th February 2016–the European Union (EU) today announced the publication of its Action Plan to address wildlife trafficking.
The Plan for 2016-2020 was drawn up following extensive public consultations in 2014 (PDF, 1 MB) and 2015 (PDF, 1 MB), to which TRAFFIC and many others contributed.
“TRAFFIC warmly welcomes the publication of this comprehensive Action Plan, which outlines the detailed steps needed to be taken by EU Member States to help bring the global poaching crisis under control,” said Katalin Kecse-Nagy, TRAFFIC’s Acting Regional Director for Europe.
Measures included in the Plan are – among others – proposals for all EU countries to consider wildlife trafficking a serious crime under the United Nations’ Convention against Transnational Organised Crime – and as recommended by the UN General Assembly Resolution on ‘Tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife’ – with custodial sentences of at least four years for those convicted, creating a significant deterrent.
Meanwhile improved enforcement collaboration is also highlighted as key. This could be achieved through enhancement of EU-TWIX, the database and information exchange platform to facilitate enforcement collaboration that TRAFFIC has managed on behalf of European countries for a decade, and through a strengthening of links with International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) partners to broaden international collaboration.
TRAFFIC is pleased to see the inclusion of demand reduction in consumer countries as another area addressed in the Plan. TRAFFIC believes consumer behaviour change leading to demand reduction is a viable long-term solution to the crisis and hopes that the Plan will encourage and support evidence- and science-based approaches that go beyond awareness raising activities.
“Clearly ongoing monitoring is essential to judge whether the Plan is being effective, and TRAFFIC encourages the European Commission to develop a set of indicators as part of their assessment process,” said Kecse-Nagy.
The Plan also acknowledges the role the private sector could play in helping bring about change, drawing particular attention to a study carried out by Ricardo Energy & Environment in collaboration with TRAFFIC on “Strengthening cooperation with business sectors against illegal trade in wildlife.” (PDF, 2 MB)
Finally, implementation of the Plan will be overseen by a group comprising several services within the European Commission. This means those engaged with implementing the plan, including the police, Customs and prosecutors, are aware it has backing at the highest levels.
“TRAFFIC also welcomes the aims of the Commission to ensure consistent implementation of the Plan with other exiting EU policies related to illegal trade in natural resources, such as those on Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and timber trade.”
“The challenge now is to ensure the Plan is fully implemented, something that is dependent on securing high-level political commitment from all EU Member States, including their endorsement of the Plan in Council,” said Kecse-Nagy.