Thursday, July 9, 2020

Container and Logistics Group Strikes Out at Illicit Shipments of Threatened Species

Shipping Line to Create Blacklist of Crooked Wildlife Exporters
Shipping News Feature

FRANCE – WORLDWIDE – One of the scandals of all international trade is the shipment of illicit cargoes of plants and animals which are taken from their natural habitat, often creatures belonging to species threatened by extinction. This can take place at every level, from the rare birds secured within tubes in an air passenger's suitcase, to much larger consignments concealed within the four steel walls of a shipping container.

Now it seems French container line CMA CGM has had enough and says it is to reinforce its existing procedures for shipping protected species, the trade in which is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). As part of these tighter procedures, shippers must expressly state whether a species is covered by the CITES convention and, where appropriate, provide the requisite export permit whenever any animal or plant goods are carried.

The crooks, for that is exactly what they are, will of course be reluctant to post accurate details on the documentation so CMA CGM has decided to create a black list of exporters suspected to be involved in illicit trafficking. The new procedures will be rolled out by staff around the globe who are to receive targeted training and given instruction on the tightened ‘know your customer’ audit policy the company has in place.

One immediate effect follows suspicions that undeclared rosewood may have been part of cargo shipments from the Gambia. This has prompted the French group to halt its timber exports from the country until further notice. Rosewood is a protected species, and trade in it is regulated by the CITES. This highly sought-after wood is felled illegally in the region and then exported under various different guises. This illicit trade is heavily implicated in the deforestation of West Africa.

As with all the major shipping lines CMA CGM has become more aware of late that the broad sweep of customers are demanding policies from all their suppliers, including logisticians, which ensure better care of the environment. CMA CGM says this strengthening of the Group's corporate social responsibility policies illustrates its resolve to help conserve global biodiversity and not to further imperil our planet’s future.

Photo: The natural resources and beauty of the Gambia is being heavily impacted by illegal logging.