Canada launches consultation on stricter measures for elephant ivory trade
July 23, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario
Here in Canada and around the world, biodiversity is declining at unprecedented rates. Since 1980, the number of elephants in Africa has fallen from 1,3 million to just over 400,000—a decline of 70 percent.
Today, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, launched a 60-day consultation to garner feedback from Canadians on a potential revised approach to elephant ivory trade in Canada.
Currently, Canada adheres to obligations on the trade of elephant ivory under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), through a permitting system for imports, exports, and re-exports, and in some cases, requires further permitting than CITES.
In recent years, there have been increased calls for the global community to take further action, including a 2016 resolution unanimously adopted by CITES Parties. In support of these global efforts, Canada is considering options to strengthen domestic measures to and from Canada.
In Canada, stricter measures on the trade of elephant ivory could include additional requirements prior to issuing permits, restricting certain types of imports or banning the trade of elephant ivory, with certain exemptions.
This consultation, in combination with considerations on global biodiversity loss, will help determine the future of Canada’s approach to the trade of elephant ivory.
“Canada is responsible for about four percent of the global trade of certain elephant ivory and with the potential extinction of African elephants looming on the horizon, Canadians want to have a say on the future of elephant ivory trade in Canada. Comments received through this consultation will play an important role in shaping Canada’s path forward on further protecting this iconic species for generations to come.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
In May 2021, the G7 Climate and Environment Ministers released a statement affirming their “strong determination to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.”
Trade in African and Asian elephants and their parts is regulated internationally through the CITES. CITES is an international agreement that aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
In addition to fulfilling its obligations on the trade of elephant ivory under CITES, Canada currently requires the issuance of an import permit for all Appendix I elephant ivory, including pre-convention ivory, before import into Canada can occur.
In Canada, CITES is implemented through the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA) and the Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations (WAPTR). WAPPRIITA/WAPTR regulate imports and exports to and from Canada and interprovincial/territorial transport of certain wildlife species.
In 2016, delegates to the CITES COP17 adopted a resolution recommending that “all Parties and non-Parties in whose jurisdiction there is a legal domestic market for ivory that is contributing to poaching or illegal trade take all necessary legislative, regulatory and enforcement measures to close their domestic markets for commercial trade in raw and worked ivory as a matter of urgency”.
Elephant ivory imported into Canada includes antique pianos, bagpipes, chess sets and carvings as commercial or non-commercial trade. Legal, non-commercial trade could include elephant ivory moving between countries as part of a household move such as a piano with elephant ivory keys, elephant ivory tusks acquired in a legal hunt, and elephant ivory used for scientific research. A smaller portion of Canada’s legal, non-commercial ivory trade includes hunting trophies that originate from legal, sustainable harvest of African elephant populations. Domestically, between 2010 and 2019 there were sixty four non compliant cases involving ivory and a total of twenty-one resulting in seizures of elephant ivory goods in Canada.
Additional measures that the Government of Canada could consider relate to commercial and non-commercial trade. Examples include an import or re-export prohibition for elephant ivory for commercial purposes regardless of its age, a restriction of allowable movement of personal elephant ivory items that are part of a household move, and a prohibition of all hunting trophy imports.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
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