Ban on Wildlife Trafficking, Ivory Sales Passes Legislature

Maui Now - May 3, 2016
By: 
Maui Now

The legislature today passed out Senate Bill 2647 and will now transmit the bill to the governor. If enacted, Senate Bill 2647 would ban sales of the parts and products of seventeen of the world’s most critically threatened, endangered, or protected species. This includes native Hawaii species, with certain exemptions for traditional practices, antiques, and other limited uses. If enacted, the ban would be the largest on the trafficking of products made from endangered wildlife in the United States.

The measure would also ban the sale of ivory in Hawaiʻi, which is the third largest market for the product in the US, behind New York and California, both of which recently passed state bans against the sale of ivory.

Groups that stood in support of the bill include: The Hawaiʻi Wildlife Coalition – Vulcan Inc, a Paul G. Allen company, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Humane Society International, The Humane Society of the United States, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Advocates of the measure pointed to Senate President Ron Kouchi and Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran in helping to secure the bill’s passage. “This policy protects our endangered species and curbs the illegal wildlife trade, while not unnecessarily targeting law-abiding citizens,” said Mike Gabbard, chair of the Senate Water, Land and Agriculture Committee.

Representative Ryan Yamane, Chair of the House Water and Land Committee, who successfully led House effort said, “As a result of House discussions with stakeholders, the bill’s final version addresses a range of legitimate issues and a number of exemptions, including those for traditional cultural practices, guns, knives, musical instruments, and antiques. Speaker Souki called this bill a ‘wonderful bill’ when the House took its final vote, and its unanimous passage out of our chamber reflects that.”

“We are honored to welcome Hawaiʻi into ‘the herd’ of other US states, along with nations around the world, that have taken a stand against the ivory trade. We will not let elephants go extinct on our watch,” said John F. Calvelli, executive vice president for the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Humane Society International CEO Andrew Rowan said, “We (are) pleased that Hawaiʻi has joined the fight to end poaching and wildlife trafficking. These islands have set an example for the world to follow.”

Jared Axelrod, Government Affairs Manager at Vulcan Inc. observed that this milestone comes only days after Kenya held the world’s largest burn of illegal wildlife products in history. On April 30, the Kenyan Government set fire to 100 tons of elephant ivory and rhino horn in the Nairobi National Park, the estimated street value of which was US $172 million. The event was held to encourage governments to take a stand against the ivory trade.

“While the timing of the Kenyan burn and passage of the Hawaii bill was not intentional, it is nonetheless a tremendous showing of solidarity between places on opposite ends of the world that have seen so much biodiversity loss. This moment shows how powerful global communities can be in saving our resources,” said Axelrod.

“Kudos to Hawaiʻi for its leadership in helping to save species from extinction. Wildlife traffickers don’t respect borders, so this law takes the profit out of smuggling,” said Jeff Flocken, North American Regional Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare. Humane Society International CEO Andrew Rowan also noted, “We pleased that Hawaiʻi has joined the fight to end poaching and wildlife trafficking. These islands have set an example for the world to follow.”