IATA & CITES To Cooperate On Reducing Illegal Wildlife Trade

Open Jaw

IATA and the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Flora (CITES) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to cooperate on reducing illegal trade in wildlife and their products, as well as on ensuring the safe and secure transport of legally traded wildlife.

CITES is a legally-binding agreement with 181 States-Parties, setting the rules for international wildlife trade in more than 35,000 species of animals and plants.

Over recent years, there has been a surge in the illegal trade of wildlife and their products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and rare timbers, with many smugglers misusing the complex international aviation system to evade customs and other enforcement agencies.

Under this MOU, IATA and CITES will have a formal framework for their ongoing cooperation on the implementation of standards and best practices. They will also support joint training and communications activities.

“The responsibility for enforcement of the rules governing international wildlife trade is clearly with governments. But well-trained airline staff can be an invaluable source of information on suspicious passenger behavior and unusual shipments,” says Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General & CEO.

“Our collaboration with CITES will help the industry to play a role in stopping the terrible scourge of illegal trade in wildlife that threatens some of the most precious animal and plant life on our planet,” said Tyler.

“We live in an interconnected world where the great benefits of global air transport are also being abused by criminals to transport illegally traded wildlife,” said John E. Scanlon, the Secretary-General of CITES. “IATA and its member airlines can play a critical role in assisting customs and other enforcement agencies by gathering valuable intelligence of suspicious activities and raising awareness among customers, passengers and staff of the devastating impacts of this illegal trade.”

Addressing IATA’s Annual General Meeting in Miami, Scanlon added: “Today we are confronted by transnational organized criminals, and in some cases rebel militia and rogue elements of the military, which are driving industrial scale poaching and illegal trade for illicit off shore markets. The profound impact this poaching and illegal trade is having upon entire species and ecosystems and the services they provide, local peoples and their livelihoods, national economies and national and regional security is now increasingly well recognized.”

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