The European Commission has announced an Action Plan to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade and impose minimum sentences on wildlife traffickers, following a successful campaign led by Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder.
Key elements of the plan include:
· Tougher penalties to punish wildlife traffickers across all EU countries (at least 4 years imprisonment for organised wildlife criminals)
· Limiting the ivory trade so that only antique ivory items can be traded within the EU
· Increasing support for international police operations to crack down wildlife trafficking gangs through the EU's crime-fighting agency Europol
· Improving checks to ensure all hunting trophies imported in the EU are legal and sustainable
· Using EU aid money to crack down on poachers in developing countries and help local communities find alternative livelihoods
Catherine Bearder urged the Commission to come forward with an EU Action Plan in 2014 in a letter co-signed by 81 MEPs, and founded the cross-party MEPs for Wildlife group which has put pressure on the EU to take action.
"Today marks a huge step forward in the global fight against wildlife crime.
"We can only tackle this issue by taking a coordinated approach, tackling the root causes of poaching and cracking down on the criminal gangs making billions from this despicable trade.
"Together in Europe we can stamp out the illegal wildlife trade and save elephants and other treasured species for future generations."
Notes to Editors
More details about the EU Action Plan against Wildlife can be found here: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-387_en.htm