And now for a bit of good news: Senate Bill 2647 passed the final Legislative hurdle last week (without any nay votes, as far as I could tell). That bill “prohibits the sale, offer to sell, purchase, trade, possession with intent to sell, or barter of any part or product from various animal and marine species” and “imposes penalties for violations of the prohibition on trafficking animal parts and products.” For anyone concerned about the slaughter of endangered and protected species for profit, this is fantastic news.
A host of environmental organizations supported the measure, as did the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
“The Department believes that this measure will decrease or eliminate the demand for the parts and products of protected animal species that are threatened with extinction,” said Suzanne Case, the chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, in her Mar. 18 testimony before the House Committee on Water and Land. “Around the World, many protected species such as elephants, rhinoceros, tigers and apes as well as protected marine life are killed so that body parts may be trafficked in markets around the world.”
While Case noted that many of the species listed in the bill aren’t found here, she did say that “this state’s status as a gateway between Asian and U.S. mainland markets creates a unique opportunity for the Hawaii State Legislature to significantly impact trade in endangered and threatened species. By making Hawaii less attractive as a channel through which these parts and products are trafficked, we can make the trade less profitable, impacting the market for these animals in their home countries and leading poachers to turn to other means of income.”
In her testimony before the same committee, Sara Marinello, who runs government and community affairs for the Wildlife Conservation Society, expanded on the import of such a ban in Hawaii–especially where ivory is concerned (click here for our recent story on a new report on Hawaii’s undocumented ivory market).
“Within the U.S., research has shown Hawaii to have one of the top three markets for ivory along with New York and California,” said Marinello in her testimony. “While the new U.S. federal ivory ban makes it illegal to import, export and trade ivory between states with only a few exceptions, state level bans are still essential to stop the ivory trade at the point of retail sale within a state. During the last two years, New York and California passed strong ivory bans, leaving Hawaii as the largest remaining market for ivory in the U.S.
“As many of our iconic species face devastating declines, Hawaiians and Americans are looking to the actions of this legislature to take a stand and conserve these species,” Marinello continued. “Through SB 2647 SD1, Hawaii has the opportunity to close the U.S.’s largest remaining ivory market and take a meaningful stand against the illegal wildlife trade while the world is watching.”
The bill’s fate now rests with Gov. Ige.