Recognizing that wildlife trafficking is an urgent conservation and national security threat, the Departments of Justice, State and the Interior today unveiled the implementation plan for the U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. The agencies are co-chairs of the president’s Task Force on Combating Wildlife Trafficking which comprises seventeen federal agencies and offices.
The implementation plan builds upon the Strategy, which was issued by President Obama on Feb. 11, 2014, and reaffirms our nation’s commitment to work in partnership with governments, local communities, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector to stem the illegal trade in wildlife.
“Illegal wildlife trafficking has become one of the most profitable types of transnational organized crime, and its impact has been devastating,” said 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 and direct new and ongoing efforts of the task force in executing the Strategy.
Building upon the Strategy’s three objectives – strengthening enforcement, reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife, and expanding international cooperation – the plan lays out next steps, identifies lead and participating agencies for each objective, and defines how progress will be measured.
Some of those steps included in the implementation plan are:
Continuing efforts to implement and enforce administrative actions to strengthen controls over trade in elephant ivory in the United States;
Leveraging partnerships to reduce demand both domestically and abroad; and
Strengthening enforcement capacity, cooperation, and partnerships with counterparts in other countries.
The Task Force has made significant strides toward meeting the objectives since the National Strategy was announced one year ago. A fact sheet describing these important steps related to law enforcement, demand reduction and international cooperation can be found here.
The United States is also using trade agreements and trade policy to press for groundbreaking commitments on wildlife trafficking and wildlife conservation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) with eleven other countries in the Asia-Pacific region and the Transatlantic Partnership Agreement (T-TIP) with the European Union (EU). These commitments would be fully enforceable, including through recourse to trade sanctions, with far-reaching benefits for species like rhinos, sharks, and pangolins.
Read more about the Justice Department’s work to combat wildlife trafficking, here: