Chinese Enforcement Officers Learn to Combat Illegal Marine Turtle Trade
The training aimed to enhance enforcement officers’ capacity to detect and combat illegal trade in marine species. It followed a similar workshop held last July for enforcement officers from Hainan Province.
Last month a TRAFFIC report, Market Forces – An Examination of Marine Turtle Trade in China and Japan, identified Hainan and Guangxi Provinces as hubs for marine turtle trade in China. The report details TRAFFIC surveys, which found many Hawksbill specimens and other turtle shell ornaments openly displayed for illegal sale in local crafts and gifts shops.
Delegates to the Guangxi workshop received expert training on CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and national regulations, current levels of illegal trade in marine species in Guangxi, effective means to detect smuggling in these species, and tuition on identification of commonly-traded marine species and their products.
“As a Party to CITES, China should strictly comply with rules of the Convention, in order to guarantee the sustainability of the world’s wildlife resources,” said Mr Wan Ziming, Director of the Enforcement & Training Division of China’s CITES Management Authority.
“China’s National Inter-Agency CITES Enforcement Coordination Group (NICE-CG) considers marine turtles, alongside animals like the tigers, rhinos, and elephants, as priority species for conservation action.”
“Through the joint efforts of NICE-CG, the illegal marine turtle trade will be strictly controlled,” added Mr Wan Ziming.
At the workshop, marine turtle identification sheets, posters and pamphlets were distributed to participants.
“TRAFFIC has closely monitored the illegal market availability of marine turtle products in China, and is working closely with relevant agencies to help stop this trade in terms of both supply and demand” said Ms Xu Ling, Senior Programme Officer in TRAFFIC in China.
“The illegal trade threatens the survival of marine turtle species and destabilizes the ecological balance of marine ecosystems in China and neighbouring countries of the Coral Triangle region,” she added.
Following the workshop, some enforcement officers undertook a joint undercover patrol in key markets in Beihai City to gain further insights and understanding of the nature of the illegal trade, as a basis for future enforcement actions. Other officers spoke openly about the illegal trade to market traders and distributed relevant communication materials.
Local traders welcomed the open approach and indicated they would follow the law and educate their customers not to purchase illegal goods.
TRAFFIC’s work on marine turtle trade in the region is part of a wider programme under WWF’s Coral Triangle Global Initiative to tackle illegal trade in marine turtles, linking China’s market demand to the illegal harvest and supply from the Coral Triangle countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines. The integrated approach combines enhanced law enforcement efforts and demand reduction through intensive legal and conservation awareness-raising.
TRAFFIC thanks the WWF Coral Triangle Global Initiative for financial support towards reducing illegal trade in marine turtles in China.
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries.
WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. TRAFFIC is a joint programme of IUCN and WWF.
Richard Thomas, Communications Co-ordinator, TRAFFIC. +44 752 6646216 (m), +44 1223 651782 email