Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Could Include Provisions that Help Curb Wildlife Trafficking in Asia

Washington, D.C. – December 7, 2012 – In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the Wildlife Conservation Society urged the United States government to maintain its commitment to environmental provisions to stop illegal wildlife trade during ongoing trade talks with countries in Southeast Asia.

 The United States has proposed a binding and enforceable conservation chapter for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement currently being negotiated between the United States and other countries, including Vietnam, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, and Singapore. WCS believes that such provisions will help stem the tide of trafficking that benefits organized crime syndicates who trade illegal wildlife products on the black market to fund other illicit activities.

The U.S. joined 10 other countries in early December for the next round of negotiations on the TPP in Auckland, New Zealand. While the U.S. currently stands alone among the negotiators in pushing for these provisions, WCS encourages the U.S. to continue its leadership in fighting against the illegal wildlife, timber and fisheries trade.

“The commitment of local governments is essential to the halting of the illegal wildlife trade that is devastating several iconic species, including tigers and elephants,” said WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs John Calvelli. “With illegal trade being the single largest threat to wildlife in Asia, it is critical that the TPP include provisions to enforce laws and establish a level-playing field amongst all negotiating countries.”

WCS also applauded the United States for its recognition of shark conservation in the TPP. Several shark species have seen significant population declines as a result of over-fishing driven by global demand for its high-value fins. Conservation measures guaranteed through the TPP would further help in regulating trade and conserving these species.

Last month, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled through Southeast Asia, including several of the countries that are party to the TPP negotiations. Secretary Clinton has recently stressed the notion that wildlife trafficking is a national security issue for the U.S., due to its connection with organized crime elements in Asia and Africa.

WCS is committed to its work of curbing wildlife trafficking in Asia and Africa. WCS directly participates in law enforcement training, on-the-ground monitoring in protected areas and parks, and emergency response using aerial surveillance. WCS pioneered the use of SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) as a suite of best practices aiming at helping wildlife managers better implement patrolling activities. WCS has also used its connections in targeted areas to establish Wildlife Crime Units, which provide data and technical advice to law enforcement agencies to support the investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes, as well as raise community awareness of prohibitions against wildlife trade.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.

Chip Weiskotten – 202-624-8172;
Mary Dixon – 347-840-1242;