The International Trade (Flora and Fauna) Act [Cap. 210] and the International Trade (Flora and Fauna) Regulations (Order No. 2 of 1991) implement Vanuatu’s obligation as a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Relevant acts and regulations can be viewed from below:
- International Trade (Fauna and Flora) Act
- International Trade (Fauna and Flora) Act 1989 - International Trade (Fauna and Flora) Regulations 1991
What is CITES?
CITES is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Vanuatu became a signatory to CITES in 1989. Signatory countries prohibit trade in an agreed list of endangered species and regulate and monitor trade in species that may become endangered. ‘CITES species’ include both live and dead specimens and parts and derivatives of listed species and cannot be traded without a permit.
The Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation (DEPC) is the CITES Management Authority for Vanuatu. It is the sole agency responsible for issuing CITES permits. Permits are issued only from the Department's Port Vila Office and two working days are required to process permit applications.
To enforce CITES, the DEPC works closely with other government departments such as the Department of Customs and Inland Revenue, the Department of Tourism, the Vanuatu Police Force and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity. In particular, the Vanuatu Fisheries Department and the Department of Forests play an important role as the CITES Scientific Authorities for Vanuatu, providing advice to DEPC about identifying species and issuing CITES permits.
What species have their trade restricted by CITES?
CITES provisions apply to a number of species, and products made from these species, that are available for purchase by visitors to Vanuatu. This includes the tree ferns that are used by Ambrym islanders to carve statues; some shells; corals; and turtles.
Under CITES, the most endangered species are listed in Appendix I. These species are threatened with extinction and cannot be traded other than in exceptional circumstances. Appendix I species found in Vanuatu include the Peregrine Falcon, dugongs and all species of turtle.
Where wildlife or wildlife products are allowed to be traded for specific purposes such as scientific research or captive breeding the recipient country must firstly issue an import permit BEFORE DEPC will issue an export permit.
Conversely if specimens are to be brought to Vanuatu, an import permit must be issued by DEPC BEFORE the source country issues an export permit. Species or their products brought into Vanuatu without a permit will be confiscated.
Other species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled are included in Appendix II of CITES. International trade in Appendix II species is allowed at the discretion of the government of the exporting country and a CITES permit must be obtained from DEPC.
Appendix II species found in Vanuatu include the Vanuatu or White Flying Fox and the Banks Flying Fox, Green Palm Lorikeet, Sperm Whale, Oceanic Whitetip Shark, Humphead Wrasse, Giant Clam, Clams, and a variety of coral species.
Appendix III of CITES contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade. Changes to Appendix III follow a distinct procedure from changes to Appendices I and II, as each Party is entitled to make unilateral amendments to it.
Trade in these species is only permitted with an appropriate export permit and a certificate of origin and requires a CITES permit from DEPC. Appendix III species found in Vanuatu include: Charonia tritonis (Conch Shell or Bubu Shell), Nautilus pompilius (Nautilus shell) and Cypraea species (Cowrie Shells).