Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (P 28A)



  1.  The UK became a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1976. CITES aims to protect certain animals and plants by regulating and monitoring international trade in them, their parts and derivatives, so that it does not become unsustainable. CITES currently protects around 30,000 species of animals and plants.

  2.  There are now 152 parties to CITES. In most Party states, the provisions of the Convention are given the force of law by national legislation. In the UK, the implementing legislation was originally the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976. However, since 1 January 1984, CITES has been implemented throughout the European Community by EC Regulations which are, in a number of areas, stricter than CITES itself. A major requirement of the EC Regulations is the undertaking of checks on imports at the first point of entry into the EU, irrespective of the final destination.


  3.  Under the EU Regulations there is an obligation on Member States to introduce comprehensive national legislation to enforce the Regulations' requirements. In the UK, the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 provides all the necessary powers to enforce import and export controls. Officers of Customs and Excise will check for illegal import of endangered species during the course of their normal duties at all UK ports and take steps as necessary to enforce the controls on any illegal imports from outside the European Union.

  4.  Further powers to enforce controls are contained in the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations. Amongst other things, this gives to the police powers over internal sales and movement, the power to apply for a warrant to enter premises in certain circumstances and the power to obtain samples for DNA analysis.

  5.  However, EC Regulations require Member States to designate ports of entry and exit for listed specimens and to specify which ports are to deal with live specimens. The UK already has a list of five airports and one seaport (Royal Portbury Dock in the Port of Bristol) designated as ports of import for live CITES-listed animals (the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Designation of Ports of Entry) Regulations 1985). However, this does not meet the requirements of the EC Regulations because it does not extend to all CITES specimens (including controlled plants, animal parts and their derivatives), nor does it specify exit points for live animals. Also, developing EC Animal Health legislation has further restricted the number of points through which live animals may enter the UK, rendering the existing DETR Regulations obsolete. DETR is therefore currently engaged in drawing up new Regulations designating UK ports of entry and exit in accordance with EU requirements. A public consultation exercise on updating the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Designation of Ports of Entry) Regulations was completed in late 2000 and drafting of a new SI is expected to be in progress by summer 2001.

February 2001

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