Custom officers in Attica are trained to fight illegal trade of wildlife

08.07.2015
HOS_CITES Seminar_Athens

On the 24th of June, HOS/BirdLife Greece in collaboration with the UK Border Force and the RSPB, organized a seminar on the matter of CITES and the illegal trading of wildlife. The seminar was held at the Athens International Airport (AIA) and aimed to inform the Custom officers of the different Custom Services in the region of Attica on this important but little-known (at least in Greece) kind of illegal trade. The overall objectives were to increase awareness on the issue of wildlife trafficking and to train the Custom officers on how to better enforce the CITES regulations.

Mr. Guy Clarke, HO of the UK Border Force CITES team, with more than 20 years experience on the matter, gave a one day seminar where he shared his extensive knowledge with the participants. Apart from the presentations, the officers had the chance to put into practice the information received in the seminar with a practical exercise. After this, they had time to discuss with Mr. Clarke and solve any doubts concerning the enforcement of the CITES Convention and their responsibilities as Custom officers.

Over 40 persons attended the seminar, most of them belonging to different Customs Offices such as the AIA Custom Office, 5th and 6th Custom Offices of Piraeus Port, Elefsina’s Port Custom Office and the Directorate of Customs Strategy of Control and Offences. However, people from departments and services of the airport itself also attended (cargo, handling, and environment department among others).

The wildlife trade involves hundreds of millions of individual plants and animals, as well as their parts and derivatives, from tens of thousands of species. International trade in species of conservation concern is monitored by CITES. From 2006-2010, CITES recorded a total of approximately 1.7 million live birds, 7 million live reptiles, 19 million reptile skins, 236,000 cat skins, 6,000 tonnes of caviar, 17 million live corals and 387 million live orchids. Illegal trade of wildlife is believed to be the third most profitable type of illegal trade, reaching an estimated US$10 billion, and is now linked to other criminal activities such as drug smuggling or even financing of terrorism. Greece, due to its geographical location is believed to play an important role in this network of wildlife trafficking. Thus, it is essential for the authorities to give this problem the relevance it deserves.

We would like to warmly thank Mr. Guy Clarke for travelling to Greece and giving this seminar. We would also like to thank the Athens International Airport (AIA) for hosting the event and helping in the logistics. Finally we would like to thank the Custom Office of the AIA for showing their commitment to fight this problem by encouraging the organization of the seminar.

HOS_CITES Seminar_Athens
HOS_CITES Seminar_Athens
HOS_CITES Seminar_Athens
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