MANILA — Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is committed to undertake further action on wildlife trafficking in the Asia-Pacific region which authorities identified as hotspot for this illegal trade of flora and fauna from the wild.
“Building on our commitments in previous years, we will take actions to combat wildlife trafficking and related corruption,” APEC economic leaders assured in their declaration after meeting in Metro Manila this week.
Their declaration outlines initiatives aligned with the 2015 APEC theme ‘Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World.’
APEC’s economic leaders, aware of rich biodiversity and economic growth in Asia and the Pacific, are committed to act against poaching, transporting and selling of illegal wildlife and wildlife products in this region.
They target cracking down on wildlife trafficking by further reducing illegal supply, transit and demand as well as strengthening domestic and global enforcement, enhancing legislative frameworks and other criminal justice tools.
Other crackdown measures are increasing cross-border lawenforcement cooperation and other interaction among wildlifeenforcement networks and enhancing efforts to treat wildlifetrafficking crime seriously, they noted in the declaration.
UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated illegal wildlife trade in East Asia and the Pacific at about USD2.5 billion annually.
“Although precise information is not available, it’s often reported traffickers can obtain around USD 50,000 from sale of one wild tiger or up to USD 60,000 per kilogram of rhino horn,” UNODC noted.
UNODC also said East Asia and the Pacific’s largest black market for wildlife products is related to marine species like reef fish and corals, generating an estimated income of USD 850 million for parties involved.
Biodiversity loss, ecosystem imbalance, introduction of invasive alien species as well as compromised security and livelihood are among wildlife trafficking’s impacts, however.
“Wildlife trafficking is a global problem but Asia and the Pacific Rim are areas of particular concern,” said Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
WCS noted wildlife trafficking is decimating a number of species in such region.
Much of endangered wildlife from other areas of the world flow through the region’s markets, WCS continued.
“We can’t stem global trade of wildlife without working hand in hand with Asian and Pacific Rim countries,” WCS said.
Earlier this year, Asia-Pacific authorities attended in Cebu province APEC’s Pathfinder Dialogue II on Fighting Corruption and Illicit Trade.
The dialogue sought bolstering collaborative efforts against wildlife trafficking in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Illegal wildlife trafficking is taking many species to the brink of extinction,” said David Luna, APEC Anti-Corruption and Transparency Pathfinder coordinator.
He also said wildlife trafficking is supported by and enables corruption and organized crime.
“Wildlife crime is generally a low-risk and high-return proposition for perpetrators which continues escalating to new ad disturbing heights,” he noted.
APEC groups Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Chinese, Taipei, Thailand, USA, Viet Nam and the Philippines.
Commencing as an informal dialogue group in 1989, APEC evolved to become the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment across the Asia-Pacific region.
Free, open trade and investment is the key goal APEC targets achieving in the region through trade and investment liberalization, business facilitation as well as economic and technical cooperation. Catherine J. Teves/PNA