Stringent licensing system for selling legal ivory in Hong Kong


South China Morning Post

Date Published
I refer to the article by Wilson Lau, of Civic Exchange (“Ivory towers”, October 17), and would like to clarify the regulation regarding the ivory trade in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong government is committed to the protection of endangered species and implements the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) through vigorous enforcement under the Protection of Endangered Species and Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586).
Our control regime in respect of elephants fully complies with the requirements of the Cites. The trade in ivory acquired after the listing of elephants in Cites Appendix I has been banned.
We have also put in place a stringent licensing system to register the commercial stock of ivory acquired legally before the listing and in compliance with Cites requirements. Applications for a licence are strictly scrutinised and subject to proof of legal acquisition and proper record of transaction. Licensed premises where ivory is kept and retail outlets are inspected by officers of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. Irregularities detected will be followed by investigation and appropriate enforcement actions.
Sparing no effort in combating illegal trade in ivory, the department has been working closely and diligently with other local and overseas law enforcement agencies and that has led to a number of significant seizures of ivory and successful prosecutions. In 2011-2013, 42 persons were convicted of smuggling ivory and the highest penalty imposed by the court was eight months’ imprisonment.
Our efforts in cooperating with the international community in protecting elephants have also been recognised internationally, including commendations from the Cites secretary general.
We will continue our enforcement efforts and maintain the momentum to prevent illegally imported ivory from entering the local market.
To reaffirm our commitment in protecting endangered species and curbing trade in illegal ivory, the Hong Kong government has decided to destroy the illegal ivory confiscated under enforcement action. The phased destruction by incineration began in May. In future, confiscated ivory that comes under the custody of the department will be disposed of by incineration on a regular basis.
Dr P. M. So, assistant director (conservation), Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Stringent licensing system for selling legal ivory in HK