MEP comments on World Environment Day

Sunday 5th June is World Environment Day with this year’s theme being zero tolerance of illegal wildlife trade.

Thousands of people in the East Midlands write to me every year about the welfare of animals both here in the UK and across the world. It is a topic that I feel very strongly about and one that I am sure many readers are passionate about.

Annually, international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants is estimated to be worth billions of pounds and to include hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens. The trade is diverse, ranging from live animals and plants to products derived from them, including food products, leather goods, timber and medicines.

However, there are some rules in place. The most important global agreement for wildlife trade is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (or CITES), which all EU countries are bound by. In many instances, EU rules already go beyond the provisions of CITES and EU countries can still introduce stricter rules if they wish.

I would like to see tougher rules which is why I supported a European Parliament Resolution on Wildlife Crime that called on EU countries to support a revision to EU law on the import of hunting trophies. It also called for a moratorium on any commercial trade in ivory until wild elephant populations were no longer under threat by poaching.

Labour MEPs are absolutely committed to policies that promote animal welfare and the sustainability of wildlife and we will continue to support legislation that ensures these are protected. Although we would like the current rules to go further, EU wide cooperation is absolutely essential for issues that cross borders, particularly issues that are driven by organised criminals.

Our EU membership guarantees a level of co-operation with our neighbours, and common rules that protect wildlife. It is only be working together that we can truly tackle wildlife crime.

Dame Glenis Willmott DBE MEP

Labour MEP for the East Midlands

Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party