Thai seafood sector and ports sign on to fight wildlife trafficking

Representatives of Thailand’s ports and seafood companies have signed on to help the government fight wildlife traffickers who are illicitly using container systems following a workshop with USAID and United Nations officials.

“Public-Private Partnerships will complement the government’s work in seriously tackling the traffickers that move wildlife products across borders and jurisdictions,” said Chaiyut Kumkun, Principal Advisor to the Director-General of Thai Customs.

The workshop brought together 33 organizations. It was attended by representatives from nine government departments, including the Thai Customs, environmental police, and CITES management authority, 14 development partners and ten shipping and freight companies.

Thailand has taken a range of actions to fight wildlife trafficking and reduced demand for and consumption of illegal wildlife and wildlife products within its borders. But law enforcement officials say because of its extensive transport and logistics systems, Thailand is used as a transit country by international syndicates engaged in wildlife trafficking.

To fight that, Thai law enforcement has been working with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and several civil society groups such as TRAFFIC and Freeland.

Together, they have trained customs and security officers at the Kingdom’s international airports and border checkpoints. Seizures of smuggled wildlife and arrests of traffickers have been better coordinated in recent years.

But the syndicates have also been using Thailand’s seaports, and they have received less attention as a means of criminal activity. They also present a daunting challenge because of the sheer volume of trade, shipments, and containers passing through.

“The maritime supply chain is at the center of the wildlife trafficking issue, as organized criminal groups exploit any crack in the system to conduct successfully their criminal operations,” said Giovanni Broussard, Regional Coordinator for the UNODC Wildlife and Forest Crime Program. “It takes a network to dismantle a network, and with this workshop, we took a big step forward in that direction.”

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