Manager of Nature Foundation Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern with Chief of Customs Anthony Doran (both seated) and several Custom officers.
PHILIPSBURG–Nature Foundation St. Maarten established an active collaboration with officers of St. Maarten Customs to exchange knowledge regarding the trade of endangered species. The cooperation is aimed at compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora CITES.
Customs Officers learned more about species that are protected under the convention, especially species occurring on St. Maarten, and details of the required permits from a biological viewpoint. Knowledge was shared about occurring concerns and issues and how the Foundation can assist officers to recognize the different endangered species.
“Collaboration is crucial to ensure survival of endangered species and to adhere to our local and international legislations,” said Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern, manager at Nature Foundation St. Maarten. “Customs officers are on the front line to intercept illegal wildlife trade. However, species recognition can be very challenging. We hope that our local species knowledge contributes to improve the CITES implementation on St. Maarten.”
Chief of Customs Anthony Doran is grateful to Nature Foundation St. Maarten for reserving time during the past weeks to exchange knowledge to the personnel of the customs department. “Our officers now have a better understanding regarding the trade in endangered species of wild flora and fauna. In close collaboration with the foundation, custom officers will continue to ensure that all species listed on the CITES upon import and export are controlled once the proper documentation can be presented.”
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. St. Maarten is a party to the convention based on the national legislation and the nature ordinance, CITES is legally binding on the parties.
In total, more than 38,700 species, including roughly 5,950 species of animals and 32,800 species of plants, are protected by CITES against over-exploitation through international trade. The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need.
Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival. Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.
In order to trade species listed on CITES between different countries, appropriate CITES import and export permits are required. Those documents need to be presented for clearance at the port of entry and exit.
Examples of species listed on CITES are sea turtles, dolphins and whales, all parrots, including cockatoos, parakeets and macaws, all corals, all cacti, all orchids, all primates, lignum vitae tree, some sharks, such as whale sharks and hammerheads, iguanas, seahorses, hummingbirds, tortoise, all boa and python snakes, all alligators, crocodiles and caimans, and some bats.
If someone intends to travel with these species in any state, either dead, alive, parts, such as shells or feathers, of or samples of these species, CITES permits need to be requested by the CITES Management Authority of the involved states.
Nature Foundation is the designated CITES Management Authority of St. Maarten and issues CITES permits for the country, appointed by the VROMI Minister via a Ministerial Administrative Decision.
For any questions related to CITES or to receive information if certain species are protected under the convention, please reach out to Nature Foundation St. Maarten. More information can also be found at naturefoundationsxm.org/cites.