Viet Nam issues ban on wildlife imports & announces closure of illegal wildlife markets
Ha Noi, Viet Nam, 24th July 2020—The Vietnamese government yesterday issued a sweeping new directive banning the sale of protected wildlife at wildlife markets and placing a temporary moratorium on the import of wild animals, including parts and products. The directive, awaited since the outbreak of COVID-19 earlier this year, calls for broad ministerial co-operation to strengthen enforcement and communications efforts to support the legislation.
The main points of Directive No 29/CT-TTg are as follows:
- The import of living or dead wild animals, eggs, larvae, parts, and derivatives of wild animals is suspended (with some exceptions for aquatic species in service of food production, animal husbandry, and medicines).
- Markets/outlets in which illegal wildlife products are sold will be shut down.
- No citizens, especially government officers, may illegally hunt, trade, traffic, kill, possess, consume, or advertise protected wildlife or illegal wildlife products.
- The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will work with relevant agencies to monitor captive-bred wildlife, including by ensuring that the wildlife is legally sourced and that a minimum standard of hygiene is met. A database of captive bred farms/facilities will be established.
- The Ministry of Public Security will strengthen law enforcement, especially against transnational organised crime. The ministry will work with relevant agencies to monitor online illegal wildlife trade.
- The Ministry of Defence will strengthen Customs and border control.
- The Ministry of Industry and Trade will ensure the Market Surveillance Department strengthens monitoring of illegal wildlife trade.
- The Ministry of Health will wild-sourced medicinal ingredients are legally acquired.
- The Ministry of Finance will work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to advise the prime minister on processing and destroying elephant ivory and rhino horn stockpiles and seizures in accordance with the law.
- The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment will review wildlife regulations and suggest amendments to strengthen policy.
- The Ministry of Information and Communications will instruct media groups to raise awareness on wildlife-related legislation and to work with relevant agencies to remove advertisements for illegal wildlife products from the internet.
- Viet Nam Television (VTV) and Voice of Viet Nam (VOV) and other media agencies will work with relevant government agencies to raise public awareness on wildlife-related laws and regulations and to continue to discourage illegal wildlife product consumption.
- The Supreme People's Procuracy of Viet Nam and Supreme People's Court of Viet Nam will work with relevant law enforcement agencies to boost enforcement efforts related to illegal wildlife. It will increase circuit courts to prosecute wildlife crimes locally. Convictions will be followed with robust sentencing and publicised widely.
- City and province-level People’s Committees shall instruct local agencies to implement solutions to counter wildlife trafficking and strictly monitor captive-breeding facilities. Captive-breeding facilities must pledge not to trade, consume, display, or advertise illegally sourced wildlife.
TRAFFIC welcomes these renewed efforts from the Vietnamese government to stamp out wildlife trafficking and protect Vietnamese citizens by reducing opportunities for zoonotic transmission. We will continue to assist enforcement by closely monitoring trade routes for illegal wildlife and sharing information with relevant agencies. We will also support communications efforts through our ongoing campaigns focusing on reducing demand for illegal wildlife products.
Sarah Ferguson, Office Director of TRAFFIC in Viet Nam
Wildlife trade, and wildlife markets in particular, have come under increased scrutiny since the outbreak of SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, given the link between an early outbreak and a market in Wuhan, China—although evidence is lacking that is where the virus actually originated.
In February, 14 non-governmental organisations in Viet Nam, including TRAFFIC, signed a letter to the Vietnamese government requesting action on illegal wildlife trade to protect the country from future pandemics.
Viet Nam is a key transit and destination country for several illegal wildlife products, including elephant ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scale, and tiger parts. It is hoped that reinvigorated enforcement efforts under the directive will work to counter wildlife trafficking in the country effectively.