6 February 2014

The trade association for the ornamental fish industry is backing a government campaign on illegal wildlife trafficking.

The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association’s Chief Executive will attend a reception at the Natural History Museum next week (12 Feb) hosted by The Rt Hon William Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the Rt Hon Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which launches an international conference on illegal wildlife trade.

While supporting the UK Government’s position on illegal wildlife crime, OATA is also highlighting that the legitimate trade in wild caught animals can bring environmental and financial benefits to remote overseas communities as well as the UK economy.

“I’m very pleased that our industry, which is involved in the legitimate trade of wild caught marine and tropical freshwater fish, invertebrates and corals, has been invited to this high profile event,” said OATA Chief Executive Keith Davenport.

“Not all wild caught animal trade is illegal. Our industry is one of the biggest importers of wild caught animals into the UK but this trade is perfectly legitimate and, importantly, brings a sustainable source of income that also contributes to protecting the environment for some of the world’s remotest communities – trade not aid if you like. And let’s not forget the financial, health and employment benefits our industry brings to the UK as well.

“We hope this message isn’t lost in the midst of this very important conference which will undoubtedly shine a light on this high profile issue to protect elephants, rhinos and tigers to avoid their extinction. We of course support this position and we support all action against wildlife crime. Indeed we’ve played our part in helping authorities tackle illegal activities within our own industry, such as smuggling endangered corals and clams.

“This type of illegal activity which ignores CITES has no part in our industry and undermines the legal trade in wild caught species that support hundreds of thousands of honestly pursued livelihoods in some of the remotest parts of the world. We welcome a robust enforcement of CITES regulations but we need to be careful that criminal activity should not stop the pursuit of the legitimate trade of wild caught animals.”

Industry and hobbyists are encouraged to show their support for the government campaign by signing up for the online ‘thunderclap’ when the conference launches on 13 February.

The reception is being held on Wednesday February 12 at The Natural History Museum to launch the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade 2014 where the UK government will bring together global leaders to help eradicate illegal wildlife trade and better protect the world’s most iconic species from the threat of extinction.  The issue is supported by both HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH the Duke of Cambridge who have given speeches in support of tackling wildlife crime.

The government position, which OATA supports, can be found at here.

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) aims is to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species in the wild.