Shipping article(s)
March 20, 2024
Photo by Milada Vigerova:

Ten organisations have joined forces to combat illegal wildlife trafficking through increasing awareness and vigilance across global supply chains.


World Shipping Council (WSC), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Global Environment Facility, and the Global Wildlife Program, in collaboration with TRAFFIC and WWF, and co-sponsored by BIC, Global Shippers Forum, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and TT Club are stepping up efforts to combat illegal wildlife trafficking, noting that maritime traffic, in particular, remains vulnerable to the trafficking of illegal goods.


"With the vast volume of trade carried by sea, the demand for faster, just-in-time deliveries and the increasing complexity of intermodal supply chains, criminals increasingly exploit weaknesses in global maritime supply chains to traffic contraband items," the joint statement said.


The organisations have produced practical guidelines for all supply chain participants, with advice on measures to take, questions to ask to help identify criminal wildlife trade, and guidance on reporting suspicious activities.


An accompanying "Red Flags" document then serves as a daily reference for all individuals involved in the supply chain.    


"Combatting illegal wildlife trafficking is a shared responsibility that requires collaboration across international containerized supply chains," the groups said, adding that all parties involved, especially consolidators and those receiving goods for packing or carriage, must take proactive steps to prevent the shipment of illegal wildlife.


It noted that this includes verifying the legitimacy of cargoes, properly sealing shipments, conducting risk assessments, and promptly alerting national authorities to suspicious activities, as appropriate.


"The Joint Industry Guidelines for Combatting Illegal Wildlife Trafficking are designed to support and further promote existing International Maritime Organization (IMO) guidelines by providing specific and actionable guidance to private sector stakeholders, and the IMO was kept informed through the development process," the announcement said.


It added that the joint industry guidelines have been submitted to the IMO for additional awareness and action.


The groups noted that illegal wildlife trafficking is not only decimating endangered species worldwide but also fuelling organized crime and threatening global security — and the coalition's joint effort underscores the shared responsibility of all stakeholders in combatting illegal wildlife trafficking.


'We recognize the critical role that the maritime industry plays in combatting illegal wildlife trafficking. By working together to increase awareness across the supply chain of how to spot and address this criminal activity, we can prevent the exploitation of global maritime supply chains for criminal activities and protect endangered species worldwide," said John Butler, president & CEO of the WCS.


Azzedine Downes, president and CEO of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), noted that the illegal trade of wildlife across the ocean is "immense, overlooked, and often under-reported."


"Given its scale and vulnerability, it is critical that maritime traffic be central to our collective efforts to mitigate the illegal trade in wildlife," Downes said, adding that the creation of these guidelines is a fundamental first step in shining a spotlight on this part of the supply chain, giving us the building blocks for a solution which positively impacts animals across the globe.


Philippa Dyson, monitoring, evaluation and learning manager at TRAFFIC, said it is estimated that 72-90% of illegally trafficked wildlife, including live animals, animal products, plants, and timber, is smuggled via the shipping industry.


"So the sector holds a responsibility to rise against transnational organised crime. By taking action with these resources, the sector will have far-reaching positive impacts for conversation and biodiversity growth at the same time as protecting livelihoods of local communities," she added.


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