PRESENTATION OF THE EAST PROJECT DURING THE XVI MEETING OF THE SG OF PA 11 SECURITY
Key facts about the WWF Bulgaria’s led project “EAST” – Effective Enforcement Actions against Sturgeon Trafficking 2018-2019
The main objective of the project was to develop a project proposal, aimed at increased enforcement against wildlife crime, in particular against sturgeons.
What we achieved: two project proposals were submitted in June 2019 (for the LIFE Governance and Just Action Grants programmes) and one concept for a project proposal under ISF has been developed to be submitted if call opens in November 2019. The team produced a data collection of possible activities and actions to be used in future project proposals against wildlife crimes (WLC).
An additional objective was to deliver a sound analytical basis for the project proposal development through: a comparative legal gap analysis of the legislative systems in Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine and Serbia; a compilation of existing project on WLC to identify synergies and potential new partners; a sample market study on caviar trade to identify entry points for illegal sturgeon products; a study on IT application for fighting WLC; an analysis of available funding sources for application; and an analysis on best practices for fighting wildlife crime. All these good quality analyses will be used in current and future projects of the EAST partners and shared with interested stakeholders.
The SWiPE proposal on the LIFE Governance programme targets investigators under the prosecution offices, judiciary, law enforcement, and it aims to build capacity through targeted training modules, developed on the basis of existing WLC case law. The project will be led by WWF Bulgaria, that will also pilot a test case of sturgeon tagging for prosecution of WLC.
The second proposal is on Just Action Grants, titled Justice for Wildlife, and once again it is led by WWF Bulgaria in attempt to produce an online video course on EU legislation concerning wildlife crime, targeting prosecutors and judges in the EU. The course is to increase the capacity of the judiciary to prosecute and adjudicate on wildlife cases and highlight the interdependencies of wildlife crime with other organized crime as well as the importance of fighting wildlife crime to secure the rule of law in the EU.Wildlife crime (WLC) is often associated with other forms of crime, such as corruption, money laundering, tax avoidance or document fraud and has dramatic negative effects on threatened biodiversity. INTERPOL and UNEP have estimated that illegal wildlife trade totals 20 billion US dollars annually (UNEP-INTERPOL Report: The Rise of Environmental Crime).
Although data on wildlife crime (WLC) is not collected systematically, recent reports illustrate the scale of the problem: according to the 2017 Birdlife report, millions of wild birds are being killed every year in Europe. Europol estimated that 100t of European eel are smuggled from the EU annually to supply Chinese eel farms. In 2017, 5644 seizure records of CITES-listed wildlife were reported by EU Member States through EU-TWIX, of which 79% by only 5 Member States, suggesting uneven enforcement.
WWF Bulgaria combines its instrumental and training approaches to protect the most endangered animals on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species with conservation activities, actions to improve the enforcement of laws and regulations, socio-economic measures in support of sturgeon conservation and by raising public awareness. To get to know more about their latest release of more than 20 000 Russian sturgeons into the Danube river, visit the website of WWF Bulgaria. The press is also available in English on the WWF CEE webpage.