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(SUSTAINABLE USER NETWORK)

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CITES Sustainable Users Group (CSUG) Meeting Minutes - 12 January 2017

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CITES Sustainable Users Group (CSUG) Meeting Minutes - Tues 12 April 2016

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CITES Conservation NGO Liaison Group (CLG) Meeting Minutes - Mon 11 April 2016

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SUN/DEFRA Meeting April 2016

Summary of points relating to bird keeping from  latest SUN/DEFRA meeting held at Temple Quay, Bristol on 12th April 2016. Submitted by Chris Smith, Chairman of the NCA

  • The EU  Parliament has raised objections to the list of Alien Invasive Species produced by the EU Commission. The Dutch Government has also raised objections. The EU Commission has now to consider these prior to publishing the list.

  • The Law Commission report is still being considered by Government but this process may not be completed during the current Parliament.

  • The Scottish Parliament is meeting in June 2016 to consider the trade and keeping of exotic pets.

  • The issue of  captive birds in show cages for training purposes will be covered by a link to Natural England to be circulated with the minutes of this SUN/DEFRA meeting.

  • The CITES 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) is to be held in South Africa from 24th September until 5th October 2016. This is likely to be politically sensitive given the location and issues with elephants/rhinos/lions etc.

  • Notable proposals for changes to CITES listings will be included in the minutes of this meeting and concern mainly reptiles and flora but there is one proposal for the African Grey Parrot to be rescheduled to Appendix 1.

  • Regarding the EU Referendum DEFRA has no plan B and no plans have been drawn up should the UK vote to leave the EU. It would take several years to disentangle environmental legislation should the UK leave the EU.

  • Changes resulting from the consultation regarding Trade in Captive Birds should be in place by the end of 2016 but due to other legislation may slip into 2017. NCA Chairman, Chris Smith, asked for it to be minuted that “it has taken three years to get to this position after the EU questioned the restriction on trade. We are expected to comply with the law as soon as it is made. It should not allow the Government to take an unacceptable amount of time to put its house in order”. DEFRA stated that whilst it did not accept the restriction on trade it was to amend the licences accordingly.

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CITES Sustainable Use Group – CSUG Minutes Thursday 27 March 2014

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SUN-AHVLA Licensing Meeting Friday 6th December 2013

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SUN meeting Following from the JLG Meeting November 21st 2013

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Minutes - JLG meeting 17 July 2012

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History of Secret Ballots and CITES

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JLG meeting 11 January 2012
Minutes SUN session

Attendees:

Jim Collins                                           SUN
Keith Davenport                               OATA
Martin Denney                                  Cyclamen Society
Vin Fleming                                        JNCC
Jane Elliot-Malpass                          Defra
Simon Hewitt                                     AHVLA
Nevin Hunter                                     AHVLA
Martin Jones                                       Falconry Online
Nick Kester                                         Hawk Board
Kim MacDonald                                 Guild of Taxidermists
Noel McGough                                   RBG Kew
Chris Newman                                   FBH/REPTA
Jemima Parry-Jones                        International Centre for Birds of Prey
Caroline Rigg                                      AHVLA
Janine Robinson                               BIAZA
Trevor Salmon                                   Defra
Chris Smith                                          National Council for Aviculture

Apologies: Peter Berry (A Berry & Son Ltd), Sally Cunningham (Defra), John, Philip McGowan (World Pheasant Association), Robert Morgan (British Fur Trade Association), Aeron Williams (Parrot Society)

Welcome and introductions

JLG background
JLG meetings were introduced by Defra in 2006 to bring together traders and wildlife NGO’s in a forum where CITES issues could be discussed between the various groups, CITES policy and delivery officials.  SUN members, for a number of years, have participated in an additional bi-annual AHVLA organised meeting, which policy officials attended as necessary.

Following a reduction in resources AHVLA told SUN in October 2011 that they would not be able to provide the Secretariat for future such meetings.  Nevertheless, members could attend the regular JLG meetings to discuss non-case specific CITES Issues. 

Summary of discussion - 11 Jan 2012
SUN expressed concerns about the cessation of meetings hosted by AHVLA and felt that an important line of communication had been removed.  SUN stressed that consultation should take place between Government and traders on relevant issues.  SUN members were reassured at the meeting that it always has been and remains Defra/AHVLA policy to consult with stakeholders on issues of concern.

 SUN were also concerned about the propriety of discussing some commercially sensitive trade issues in the same fora as NGO’s.   

AHVLA/Defra informed SUN that it was not their intention to curtail such meetings but rather that with the JLG in existence the provision of Secretariat duties to the SUN meeting could no longer be justified.  They and policy were available, as required, for bilateral meetings to discuss specific trade issues.

Defra reiterated that the scope of the JLG was limited to CITES related matters, and not broader biodiversity topics such as bird related issues under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (WCA) 1981.  Separate meetings, involving the relevant Defra policy lead as appropriate, would need to be arranged for those. Specific case related discussions should take place directly between SUN and AHVLA and/or Defra.

SUN also asked for an update on team names and responsibilities.

Agreed action:

  • SUN will arrange and provide Secretariat for future case related meetings, if possible running these immediately before or after JLG meetings.  Defra/AHVLA/SAs will attend these meetings as necessary

  • Defra/AHVLA to circulate staff organisation charts to SUN members, including those for DG Env

Annex A captive bred specimens
This topic related to proof of legal origin for specimens not commonly kept and/or bred in captivity that were never originally intended to be used
for commercial purposes.  In cases, for example, where a keeper keeps annex A specimens which they had not intended to sell and therefore for which they do not have Article 10 certificates, if/when the animals breed this can result in a surplus of animals which the keeper may then decide to sell. 

SUN had previously suggested that AHVLA/Defra set up a registration scheme to enable specimens kept but not intended for a commercial use to be registered, as this would help with proof of legal origin if the keeper subsequently wished to use the specimens commercially.  A meeting between SUN/Defra/JNCC took place on this matter several years ago.  At that time, and now, Government’s view was that such a registration scheme should not be established.  Such a scheme could not be imposed, was likely to be expensive, and was unlikely to be comprehensive if introduced on a voluntary basis.

Defra confirmed, however, that long time periods between the time a specimen was first acquired and the time of first application for an Article 10 would not in itself be interpreted by default as evidence or suspicion of illegality of origin.    However, Defra / AHVLA encouraged keepers to keep good records which could help in establishing the legal origin of such specimens.

Agreed action.

  • Applications will continue to be considered on a case by case basis using a risk assessment approach.

  • AHVLA would liaise with Chris Newman in respect of general guidance on the sort of evidence which would be satisfactory for them to use as evidence of legal acquisition.

The term ‘commercial'
As part of the review of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations the European Commission had agreed that where there was a lack of clarity in the existing regulations, this should be addressed either by changes to the Wildlife Trade Regulations or by informal guidance. EU Member States had been asked to assist with drafting these guidance notes which are expected to go through a period of consultation within the EU and also with stakeholders.   The UK is involved in drafting guidance on the following topics:

  • Definition of ‘primarily commercial purposes/commercial purpose’

  • Worked specimens

  • Questions related to ‘transaction specific’ certificates

  • Definitions of ‘applicant, importer/exporter, agent’

The UK is also assisting a small number of other MS with drafting guidance on other issues.

Agreed Action:

  • No final decisions had yet been taken on any guidance.  Defra will ensure that relevant UK stakeholders are consulted on the draft guidance once it is in a fit form and before it publication; this is likely to be from spring 2012.

  • Defra to supply SUN members with a list showing which EU Member States are involved in drafting each guidance.

Operation RAMP
AHVLA briefly provided an overview of Operation RAMP; an Interpol led global operation aimed at the illegal trade in reptiles and amphibians. 

SUN expressed a number of concerns, in particular the perceived heavy handedness and timing of the Operation, which coincided with a procedural change, related to return of transaction specific certificates on the sale of specimens.  SUN believe that a number of traders who were not aware of this change were disadvantaged by the timing of the operation.  AHVLA stated that no such circumstance had resulted in prosecutions.  Several SUN members said they thought communications from AHVLA on the procedural change were poor and that to ensure future good compliance, communications should be timely and consistent.  Participants took different views on whether the TSC change was a significant one, but also explored how communications could be improved.

Agreed Action:

  • Nevin Hunter would convene a meeting in April 2012 to review Operation RAMP to consider lessons learnt.   This will be an open meeting to which SUN Members will be invited.

  • Defra/AHVLA will consider how communication with the trade on any procedural changes which are normally placed on the AHVLA website, could be improved.

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Extracts from a Meeting between DEFRA Wildlife Licensing and Registration Service (WLRS), Scientific Authorities & SUN Representatives (Tuesday 1 March 2011, RBG Kew)

Review of Procedures:

a.  Withdrawal of Pre-issued Certificates under Article 63 of 865/2006

JH [John Hounslow (DEFRA)] explained that WLRS were no longer issuing semi-complete Article 10 certificates as there was evidence of them being used to illegally sell birds and that breeders were consistently failing to provide adequate records and completing returns in a timely fashion.  Mike Gates (World Owl Trust) stated that he hadn’t received the letter informing traders of this; his members had not been consulted and they were concerned that there would be problems hand-rearing owls if they had to wait 6 weeks for an Article 10 certificate.   JH confirmed that WLRS met its targets so there shouldn’t be a problem.  Kim McDonald (Guild of Taxiderista) expressed his frustration that this change affected taxidermy specimens but no criminal offences had taken place for dead birds.

b.  Bird Reg/A10 combined Application Form

A new form is being developed to enable applicants to apply for an Article 10 certificate and register a bird at the same time.   This will save time having to provide the same information twice. 

c.   Wild disabled birds

JH explained that WLRS has had concerns for some time about the number of wild Schedule 4 birds that are registered for rehabilitation and subsequently end up permanently kept in captivity.  WLRS will be taking a stricter view to ensure that wherever possible any wild Schedule 4 bird taken into captivity is rehabilitated and released back to the wild as soon as possible.  They will be inspecting keepers of wild Schedule 4 birds to check that rehabilitation is occurring and that the keeper has sufficient knowledge to successfully release the bird back to the wild.

There are 2 new forms available for avian vets to download and complete http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalhealth/about/formsandfees/formdisplay.asp?ref=WLRS118 and http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalhealth/about/formsandfees/formdisplay.asp?ref=WLRS117

Article 10 certificates for wild disabled birds will only be granted where there are genuine exceptional conservation benefits to the species.

Report back from SRG meeting and Upcoming: SRG, Plants and Animals Committee Meetings

Alison Littlewood (JNCC)  gave an overview of the last Scientific Review Group (SRG) meeting which included discussions on eels, the new suspension regulation and reptiles from Benin.  She explained that the SRG regularly reviews species and country combinations subject to long standing import suspensions. KD said that he felt that transparency had improved within the SRG but it was not yet appropriate to the 21st century. AL stated that there had been some progress in this regard and a lot of SRG reports and documents have now been made available via the commission website http://ec.europa.eu/environment/cites/home_en.htm including the agenda for the next meeting. 

CITES Charging, merger with VLA and other corporate proposals

JH explained that a submission is being sent to Ministers about increasing CITES charges.  WLRS customers will be consulted.  New fees are likely to be introduced in 2012.  JH said that Animal Health was merging with VLA and this may make bird imports more joined-up.

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THE SUSTAINABLE USERS NETWORK (SUN)

The Sustainable Users Network (SUN) was established in the late 1980's at the specific behest of the UK's Department of Environment (now DEFRA) who were getting frustrated at the number of organisations seeking to have dialogue with them and the relative lack of professionalism from many of these groups. At the same time our opponents likewise formed an umbrella grouping for discussions with Government (Wildlife & Countryside Link).

At the universal agreement of all the affiliates to SUN it is intentionally run on a relatively ad hoc and informal basis but acts as a single point of contact to the likes of DEFRA and the JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee) so that regular meetings and such like can be organised with our Scientific and Management Authority's. As such, SUN meets as a group of affiliates, share information, endeavour to support each other in lobbying, etc. SUN's main role is to help ensure that animal and plant interests, hobby and trade, work together and wherever possible have a unified approach on legislation. The only requirement for SUN affiliation is that all organisations are able to state that they support the concept of sustainable trade in wildlife (i.e. trade in both captive-derived and wild-taken stock provided this is undertaken sustainably i.e. within the constraints established by CITES for setting quotas, establishing non-detriment findings, etc.).

In addition to the NCA - which has been an affiliate since the inception of SUN - the Sustainable Users Network has a mass of organisations affiliated to it amounting to a combined membership in the region of 1.2 million. Included in the affiliated membership are two UK organisations concerned with field sport activities (The Hawk Board and The British Association for Shooting and Conservation) and a host of others connected with both plant and animal interests both trade and hobbyist - e.g. British & Irish Association of Zoos & Aquaria, Pet Care Trust, National Association of Private Animal Keepers, Timber Trade Federation, Guild of Taxidermists, Royal Horticultural Society, International Owl Society, British Orchid Growers Association, Parrot Society, to name but a very few. It is widely acknowledged by DEFRA that SUN has been able to influence legislation a great deal more successfully than any of the affiliates are able to do on their own.

Jim Collins - a keen bird-keeper - has been SUN's Co-ordinator for the past fifteen years.

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