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Another Tool in the Fight Against Illegal Fishing

More than 2.5 billion people—approximately one-third of the global population—depend on fish for food and nutrition. That number is expected to double by 2050.

Unfortunately, 85% of the world’s oceanic fisheries are fully exploited, over-exploited, or depleted. Additionally, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) takes as much as 33% of the world’s total legal fish catch, costing us as much as $23 billion annually, which further threatens future productivity of the world’s fishing stocks.

Many countries employ different tools to combat IUU, including setting catch limits and quotas for fisheries, providing bycatch reduction gear, zoning their marine areas, satellite monitoring and enforcement.

Recently, the United Nations made a historic first step in combatting IUU through the ratification of the Port State Measures Agreement. Originally signed in 2009 by the FAO, the Port State Measures Agreement required a minimum of 25 countries to ratify the agreement for it to take effect.

Hong Kong Protesters Target FedEx Over Shark Fin Shipments

HONG KONG (July 3, 2016) — Activists dressed in blood-stained shark costumes demonstrated Saturday outside a FedEx depot in Hong Kong to protest the shipping continued shipments of cruel and unsustainable shark fin.

With over 100 million sharks slaughtered annually, in large part driven by the demand for shark fin soup in Hong Kong and China, many shark species are being driven towards extinction. Over the past 15 years, Hong Kong has accounted for 50% of the global shark fin trade. 

“Logistics companies like FedEx provide critical links in a long supply chain from the illegal fishing boats in far away oceans to the mouths and throats of Hong Kong consumers,” said WildAid Hong Kong’s Alex Hofford. “We urge FedEx to do the right thing, and take a bold step to protect sharks – just as its industry competitor UPS did so in 2015, and Hong Kong's flag carrier Cathay Pacific did last month.”

WildAid and Panthera Launch Lion Campaign, 1 Year After Cecil

NEW YORK (June 30, 2016) — A year ago this week, the illegal killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe galvanized international outrage against an American trophy hunter, and a new awareness of the plight of the African lion. Beyond Cecil: Africa’s Lions in Crisis published today by Panthera and WildAid, with Oxford University’s WildCRU, exposes the gravest threats that, one year later, place the African lion in an ever tighter race against extinction, and outlines a roadmap to save the species. 

In a new partnership, Panthera and WildAid launched an online campaign today coinciding with the report, one that calls upon the global community to "Stand with Africa to Let Lions Live” at LetLionsLive.org

Over the past two decades, the African lion population has declined by an estimated 43%, with only 20,000 lions remaining across the entire continent. Habitat loss, bushmeat poaching and conflict with livestock owners are the primary killers of Africa’s lions today. Compared to trophy hunting, these threats combined are estimated to kill 5-10 times as many lions each year. 

CNN: WildAid's Peter Knights Discusses Death of Cecil the Lion

The recent death of a beloved lion in Zimbabwe has sparked international outrage, with news that a US hunter killed "Cecil" after guides allegedly lured the animal outside Hwange National Park. Multiple outlets have reported that a Minnesota man paid over $54,000 for the hunt. 

Obama Proposes Strict Rules on US Ivory Trade

On the occasion of his historic trip to East Africa, President Obama pledged stronger measures to end ivory sales in the United States, widely considered to be the world’s second largest market after China.

"Our countries are also close partners in the fight against poachers and traffickers that threaten Kenya's world-famous wildlife," Obama said during a Saturday press conference alongside President Kenyatta of Kenya. "The United States has a ban already on the commercial import of elephant ivory. I can announce we're proposing a new rule that bans the sale of virtually all ivory across our state lines, which will eliminate the market for illegal ivory in the United States," while further restricting imports and exports, the President said.

Under current federal law, ivory can be sold legally across state lines if it was imported prior to January 18, 1990, the date when African elephants were officially listed under CITES Appendix I — the greatest level of international protection for threatened and endangered species such as gorillas, tigers and giant pandas. The seller is obligated to prove that ivory was imported before 1990. 

But under the new proposed rule, ivory can be sold across state lines only if:

• An item is an antique exempted under the Endangered Species Act, and is at least 100 years old, among other criteria;

or:

• The item contains only a small amount of ivory — specifically under 200 grams — that was acquired prior to 1990. Musical instruments, firearms and some furniture pieces could fall under this exempted category. 

'Saving Africa's Giants with Yao Ming' Nominated for an Emmy Award

We're thrilled to announce that Saving Africa's Giants with Yao Ming has been nominated for a News & Documentary Emmy Award!

This one-hour special that premiered in November on Animal Planet was nominated for Outstanding Nature Programming alongside PBS — for Ireland's Wild River, Snow Monkeys and Touching the Wild — and National Geographic Wild, for Wild Hawaii. WildAid CEO Peter Knights and Animal Planet's Erin Wanner share executive producer credits on the film. 

Yao Ming has been one of WildAid's most influential ambassadors for nearly a decade. In Saving Africa's Giants, WildAid and Yao joined forces and traveled to Africa to educate consumers about the perilous state of rhinos and elephants. The film is narrated by Edward Norton and features the work of WildAid, African Wildlife Foundation, Save the Elephants, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Daphne Sheldrick and The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Dr. Will Fowlds, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Tusk Trust, Kenya Wildlife Service and South African National Parks.

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Hong Kong: World’s Ivory Sales Capital

Hong Kong's ivory market is booming thanks to an influx of tourists seeking luxury items — and that's impeding international efforts to end Africa’s elephant poaching crisis, according to a new report released Wednesday by Save the Elephants.

A survey of 72 Hong Kong retail outlets found nearly 31,000 ivory items displayed for sale, with jewelry the most popular item followed by figurines. Vendors estimated that 90% of customers were tourists from mainland China. 

“No other city surveyed has so many pieces of ivory on sale as Hong Kong,” report co-author Esmond Martin said in a statement. “With higher taxes on the mainland, Hong Kong has become a cheaper place to buy ivory. With 40 million people crossing the border between the territories every year and controls lax, there’s little chance of their getting caught.”

Licensed vendors can legally sell ivory products obtained prior to 1990 when an international ban on ivory imports went into effect. But the city's licensing system has been roundly condemned as ineffective, allowing for the sale of illegal ivory from recently poached elephants.  

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Protecting the Galápagos from Illegal Fishing

At 51,000 square miles, Ecuador’s Galápagos Marine Reserve (GMR) is one of the world’s largest marine protected areas. Due to its isolation, over 20% of the terrestrial and marine species in the Galápagos Islands are found nowhere else on earth. 

Sadly, it’s also a hotbed for illegal fishing activity that threatens the archipelago’s biodiversity. WildAid estimates that at any given time, there are between 1-5 commercial vessels fishing around the GMR, with illegal take of sea cucumber, lobster, and several species of tuna, shark and billfish.

Ecuadorian commercial longliners from the continent are the primary threat to the Galápagos, with crews often towing smaller boats that enter the reserve. (Costa Rican and Colombian fishermen pose a threat as well.) We also estimate that some operations are tied to organized crime: Contraband includes narcotics, shark fin and fuel, which is heavily subsidized by the Ecuadorian government and is sold at sea. 

Working in cooperation with the Galápagos National Park Service and partners, WildAid aims to make this reserve the best-protected marine reserve in the developing world.

Recently, we partnered with colleagues at World Wildlife Fund to conduct a three-day operations and marine enforcement training with over 40 wardens from the Galápagos as well as continental protected areas such as Machalilla, Pacoche and Santa Clara.

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