The European Commission has announced the first EU Action Plan to fight against wildlife crime – a tailor-made document proposing minimum sentences on wildlife traffickers.

The Plan has been officially presented by the European Commissioner for Environment, Karmenu Vella, today at the European Parliament.

GUE/NGL MEP Stefan Eck welcomed the release of the plan stating that “it is a huge step forward in the world's fight against an awful, illegal trade. I hope it will help to bring an end to a practice that is depriving future generations of some of the world's most beautiful species, threatening human lives and causing insecurity and instability in some of the world’s poorest countries”.

However, the MEP said, “there is still room for improving when it comes to tackling wildlife crime. For example, an EU-wide ban on trophy hunting should be – but isn't – covered by this Action Plan”. 

Key elements of the plan include: tougher penalties to punish wildlife traffickers across all EU countries (at least 4 years imprisonment); limiting the ivory trade so that only antique ivory items can be traded within Europe; EU support for international police operations to crack down on wildlife trafficking gangs through the EU's crime-fighting agency Europol; using EU aid money for efforts to crack down on poachers in developing countries and help local communities find alternative livelihoods; improved checks to ensure all hunting trophies imported in the EU are legal and sustainable.

Earth has entered its sixth mass extinction phase, with animals now dying out at 100 times the normal rate. Estimates of the current rate of extinction range from 500 to 36 000 species per year. This extinction crisis is caused primarily by human activities.

Worth over EUR17 billion a year by some estimates, the international illegal trade in wildlife attracts and supports organised criminal networks at local, national and international levels.  It also undermines local and national economic and political stability, and deprives rural communities of valuable natural resources. And, of course, it leads to environmental destruction and the breakdown of ecosystems, imperils wild species and causes extensive animal suffering.

GUE/NGL Press Contact:

Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20

Nikki Sullings + 32 483 03 55 75

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