Ms Catherine Bearder (ALDE) on behalf of MEP4Wildlife, the coalition of Members of the European Parliament established in February 2015 as a cross-party interest group at the European Parliament campaigning for the EU to step up the fight against wildlife crime, recently met with the Chinese Mission in Brussels to discuss the Chinese ivory ban.
The Chinese Government, at the end of 2016 announced a phased schedule to revoke some licenses by March 2017 and to eventually stop all commercial ivory carving and retail sales by the end of 2017.
Mrs Bearder received an informal progress report on the ban from the Mission which outlines the steps taken by the Chinese Government until now and the international cooperation with Africa. Interestingly, the report calls the EU as well as countries in Europe to take credible steps to effectively ban ivory trade and their products.
Indeed the EU is the biggest exporter of ivory to China and Hong Kong, with exports of worked ivory experiencing an alarming increase in the last two years and ivory remains on sale in many EU countries in markets, auctions, antique shops and online and ivory is on top of the list of seized wildlife products in the EU.
Some of you are probably thinking that ivory was not on sale anymore in Europe, as ivory products look to the most of the younger generations as “old-fashioned”, in particular if we think that these come from magnificent creatures who have died for it. The reality is much more intricate: European vendors are legally allowed to export ivory “collected” before 1990 (pre-Convention), raw – whole tusks, ivory chunks or scraps – or worked, bangles, cups, statues, etc… Trade in “new” ivory (i.e. that does not fulfil the requirements to be considered antique (worked) or pre-Convention) is not permitted within or to/from the EU for commercial purposes. But Elephant poaching and ivory trafficking won’t stop while ivory continues to be sold legally.
The EU already took good steps in the right direction deciding to suspend the (re)export of raw ivory as from June 2017. However, the guidelines will only cover a part of the problem, without tackling the worked items and as well the lack of requirement of a certification within European Member States to internally trade ivory. The Commission communicated to the Member States that after the raw guidelines they will explore the possibility to restrict further the ban into intra-EU ivory trade and the re-export of worked ivory items through changes to the guidelines.
IFAW believes that all trade in elephant ivory, both international and domestic, must be stopped as long as elephants are being killed for their ivory tusks
IFAW will be advocating in the next following months to make sure that the second step occur and the European Union closes all ivory markets in line with the ban in China and in the United States.
Article source: IFAW