PPP/C calls for reopening of wildlife trade

The PPP/C through the Office of the Leader of the Opposition has issued a call to the government requesting efforts be made to immediately enable the reopening of the wildlife trade.

The Office of the Leader of the Opposition, in a statement issued yesterday, asked the government to, “immediately attend to its administrative responsibilities to enable the re-opening of the wildlife trade, simultaneously ensuring that this is done in a renewable and sustainable manner.” Alluding to the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2016, assented to by President David Granger last October, the PPP/C said it was intended to satisfy international conventions pertaining to the import and export of wildlife and provide a regulatory framework to bring Guyana into compliance with international standards and best practices; not to bring the trade to a precipitous halt.

“As of today, Friday, April 7, almost six months after the passage of this legislation, there has been no notice or announcement of the re-opening of this commercial activity. This inaction has negatively affected the livelihood of exporters, trappers, many Amerindians in Guyana’s hinterland regions and others engaged in this business,” the statement read.

“We urge the government to act expeditiously to facilitate resumption of the wildlife trade, while concurrently synchronising the creation of an environment of a smooth and efficient wildlife conservation and management framework, with the capacity for adequate enforcement,” it concluded.

Passed on August 9, 2016, the Act saw the establishment of the Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission, which would take responsibility for managing the country’s compliance with the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species CITES, which has been ratified by Guyana.

The explanatory memorandum explains that the commission, which has the power to enforce the provisions of the Act, is to be funded by a Wildlife General Fund, which the Act also established.

The commission’s functions include granting, amending and cancelling licences, permits and certificates in respect of activities related to species of wildlife; monitoring and enforcing licences, permits and certificate compliance; determining the annual closed season timeframe for the hunting, trapping and trade of species of wild fauna; facilitating, promoting and supporting mechanisms whereby local Indigenous villages may participate in the effective protection, conservation, management and sustainable use of wildlife on their titles lands; establishing policies and procedures for the protection, conservation, management and sustainable use of wildlife by and for the benefit of all citizens of Guyana and in particular the communities and villages living in proximity to wildlife; and causing to be established facilities for the quarantining of imported species of fauna and flora, including those species imported for the purpose of re-exportation.

Additionally, the law brings into being the Wildlife Scientific Committee.

The committee, which shall comprise not less than five nor more than seven qualified persons to be appointed by the Minister of Natural Resources, is to be responsible for advising the commission on matters relating to the importation, exportation, re-exportation and introduction from the sea of species specified in the Schedules of the Act; and advising the commission of the measures, including the establishment of quotas, to limit the grant of export permits when the population status of a species so requires.

The explanatory memorandum noted that the legislation has its origins in the passage in 1999 of the Species Protection Regulations, made under the Environmental Protection Act, so as to address concerns regarding Guyana’s inability to implement and enforce the CITES because of its failure to adopt the necessary legislation.

The passage of these regulations resulted in the withdrawal of a notification which would have led to the refusal of any import from and export or re-export to Guyana of CITES specimens.

These regulations were later categorised as generally not meeting all requirements for the implementation of the Convention and consequently, in 2013, the Wildlife Management and Conservation Regulations were enacted under the Environmental Protection Act. However, a further review determined that a separate Act, and not just regulations, was needed to provide for the protection, conservation, management, sustainable use and the internal and external trade of Guyana’s wildlife, both flora and fauna; and to establish the requisite framework for the creation of appropriate and Convention-compliant legal and regulatory mechanisms in Guyana.

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