How do you spot the warning signs of wildlife crime in the marine industry?

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Image used for representation only (Image courtesy: TRAFFIC)

Weaknesses and loopholes in maritime supply chains are often exploited by traffickers to smuggle wildlife and wood products to meet growing demand, mainly in Asian markets. Together, TRAFFIC and WWF support the shipping industry to detect illegalities crossing global waters.

The legal wildlife trade is a complex activity that meets the local and international demand for wildlife products in many industries. However, a growing parallel illegal business is taking advantage of weaknesses in maritime supply chains to illegally transport wildlife products from source to destination markets.

“It is estimated that in volume, 72 to 90% of wildlife products are trafficked. About 90% of international merchandise trade by volume is transported by sea, so you can see how detecting illegal wildlife trade can be like looking for a needle in a haystack, ”said Livia Esterhazy, President WWF’s Asia-Pacific Growth Strategy (APGS). and CEO of WWF-New Zealand.

“Wildlife smugglers get emboldened by secreting illicit cargoes into commercial supply chains. To address this and proactively respond to Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT), we needed practical and practical detection guides to help freight forwarders and liners detect suspicious shipments even without opening freight containers, ” Esterhazy added.

Often, traffickers adapt their modus operandi to avoid detection in the smuggling of illegal products. This can vary depending on the type of wildlife commodity, its origin and target consumers, but frequently involves facilitating corruption across shipping infrastructure.

Bribes are common in the illegal wildlife trade, and take place at the source, transit and export stages. Sometimes these bribes persuade employees to help forge documents. One type of documentation essential for regulating legal trade and ensuring that it does not threaten the survival of the species is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) for species included in the Appendix.

“The smuggling of CITES-protected species is an extremely lucrative business for criminal networks and could have major ramifications for the species’ survival in the wild. This compendium aims to help the shipping industry to better identify potential signs of tampering or non-compliance with CITES permits, ”said Monica Zavagli, TRAFFIC program manager for transport sector engagement.

“By definition, illegally traded wildlife is not subject to hygiene, sanitary and phytosanitary controls; as a result, illegal wildlife trade carries risks to public health and can contribute to the spread of zoonoses and invasive species around the world, ”Zavagli added.

To address these issues, TRAFFIC and WWF have worked with many partners to produce guidance to help the ocean freight industry identify wildlife crime. “The Red Flag Compendium for Trafficking in Wildlife and Timber in Containerized Cargoes” details warning signs of corruption, smuggling, other related crimes and describes red flags and additional tools to identify them. prolifically trafficked CITES-listed species including big cats, specific marine life, large mammal species such as rhinoceros, elephant and timber.

This compendium includes information on risky routes as well as typical indicators of illicit activity such as questionable documents and discrepancies in information such as value, weight and appearance. Irregular behavior, such as shipments spread across multiple shipments, a last minute request for shipment clearance, and abnormal or sudden changes in routes or destinations can be signs of illegal action.

By highlighting potential risks in this compendium, shipping companies can implement more stringent safeguards to protect their employees, businesses and nature. This information is essential to protect the integrity of maritime supply chains against operational, economic, security and zoonotic health risks.

“We know that traffickers use existing transport infrastructure to move their illicit goods around the world and have developed sophisticated networks to facilitate this movement by exploiting weaknesses and loopholes and facilitating large-scale corruption. Maritime supply chains are very complex, but through our cross-sector collaborations within United for Wildlife (UfW), we are working with partners around the world to disrupt these networks and address this threat, ”said Lord Hague , president of United for Wildlife.

Report on the sea, July 21


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