BORDALLO, YOUNG INTRODUCE WILDLIFE CONSERVATION AND ANTI-TRAFFICKING ACT
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam) and Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) introduced the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018, which would strengthen federal enforcement against poachers, traffickers, and the global trade in illegal wildlife and seafood products. This bipartisan bill would also engage whistleblowers in the fight to bring down global trafficking rings and provide dedicated funding for wildlife, marine mammal, sea/freshwater turtle, and shark conservation at no expense to American taxpayers.
Both longtime leaders on wildlife and marine conservation issues, Congresswoman Bordallo is a senior Democratic member of the House Natural Resources Committee and Congressman Young is the Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Wildlife trafficking, poaching, and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing rank among the top global crimes, generating billions in illicit profits each year for transnational criminal organizations and extremist groups responsible for human rights abuses such as human trafficking and forced labor, weapons and narcotics trafficking, political corruption, and even terrorism.
The Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018 would:
- Strengthen anti-trafficking enforcement by making serious wildlife trafficking violations predicate offenses under federal racketeering and anti-organized crime statutes (RICO and Travel Acts).
- Build upon the success of the Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act of 2016 (Public Law 114-231), which made wildlife trafficking a predicate offense under the federal money laundering criminal statute.
- Authorize U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officials and agency personnel to be stationed abroad in high-intensity wildlife trafficking areas, as embeds in American embassies and consulates.
- Direct federal agencies to finally implement authorities provided by current law to reward whistleblowers for wildlife crimes like trafficking, poaching, and black-market imports.
- Incentivize whistleblowers to report wildlife trafficking, leading to more actionable intelligence and criminal convictions.
- Bring the process for adjudicating whistleblower claims for wildlife trafficking crimes in line with other, successful federal whistleblower programs.
- Direct any penalties, fines, forfeitures, and restitution paid to the U.S. government for criminal violations of the federal organized crime, racketeering, and money laundering statutes to support wildlife, marine mammal, and shark conservation efforts, at no expense to American taxpayers.
- Expand the Marine Turtle Conservation Fund to include at-risk freshwater turtles and tortoises and support conservation in U.S. territories. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), many of the world’s terrestrial turtle species (both freshwater turtles and tortoises) could become extinct in the next few decades. All sea turtles found in U.S. territorial waters are listed under the Endangered Species Act.
- Direct any penalties, fines, forfeitures, and restitution paid to the U.S. government for violations regarding federally protected marine and freshwater turtles and tortoises (Endangered Species Act and Lacey Act) to support the Marine Turtle Conservation Fund, at no expense to American taxpayers.
- Makes serious violations for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by foreign vessels or fraudulent fish imports into the United States a predicate offense under the federal money laundering criminal statute. According to the U.S. State Department, IUU fishing often goes hand-in-hand with transnational organized crime, human rights abuses such as human trafficking and forced labor, and weapons and drug trafficking.
To date, the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018 is endorsed by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), National Whistleblower Center, African Wildlife Foundation, Humane Society Legislative Fund, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Oceana, Sea Turtle Conservancy, Animal Welfare Institute, and Wildlife Conservation Society.
“This bipartisan bill confronts the global black-market trade in illegal wildlife and seafood products driving iconic wildlife to extinction and responsible for countless human rights abuses. Poachers, traffickers, and transnational criminal organizations are unyielding in their illicit activities, and Congress must be equally aggressive in tacking these global challenges head on,” said Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo.
“I’m pleased to join my friend, Congresswoman Bordallo, and cosponsor this bill. As an avid sportsman, I have long supported legislation that strengthens our ability to conserve wildlife and stop wildlife traffickers,” said Alaska Congressman Don Young. “The provision to strengthen our ability to stop illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in U.S. waters is particularly important. I believe that protecting wildlife requires a unified and strategic approach to put an end to poaching worldwide. I look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Bordallo on this and other efforts to ensure sustainable wildlife populations around the world.”