By Sandra Pearce
The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association is backing a government campaign on illegal wildlife trafficking.
OATA’s chief executive Keith Davenport attended a reception at the Natural History Museum earlier this month, hosted by The Rt Hon William Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the Rt Hon Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which saw the launch of an international conference on illegal wildlife trade.
While supporting the UK Government’s position on illegal wildlife crime, OATA is highlighting that the legitimate trade in wild-caught animals can bring environmental and financial benefits to remote overseas communities as well as the UK economy.
Legitimate, sustainable trade
Keith said: “Not all wild-caught animal trade is illegal. Our industry is one of the biggest importers of wild-caught animals into the UK, but this trade is perfectly legitimate and, importantly, brings a sustainable source of income that also contributes to protecting the environment for some of the world’s remotest communities – trade not aid if you like. And let’s not forget the financial, health and employment benefits our industry brings to the UK as well.
“We hope this message isn’t lost in the midst of this very important conference which will undoubtedly shine a light on this high-profile issue to protect elephants, rhinos and tigers to avoid their extinction. We of course support this position and we support all action against wildlife crime. Indeed we’ve played our part in helping authorities tackle illegal activities within our own industry, such as smuggling endangered corals and clams.”
The London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade 2014 brought together global leaders from more than 40 nations, with the aim of quashing the illegal ivory trade threatening the survival of elephants, rhino and other species, a trade estimated to be worth £12bn a year. It saw agreement on key actions to stamp out illegal wildlife trade.
Keith added: “This type of illegal activity which ignores CITES has no part in our industry and undermines the legal trade in wild-caught species that support hundreds of thousands of honestly pursued livelihoods in some of the remotest parts of the world. We welcome a robust enforcement of CITES regulations, but we need to be careful that criminal activity should not stop the pursuit of the legitimate trade of wild-caught animals.”
The government position, which OATA supports, can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-commitment-to-action-on-illegal-wildlife-trade-iwt