THE Council of Ministers in Madrid has approved a 16-part action plan to help combat the illegal plant and animal shipping trade.
Spain’s first plan against illegal trafficking and the international poaching of animal and plant species is set to be enacted over the next two years until 2020.
It commits the Foreign Affairs, Environment, Economy and Finance ministries as well as the Guardia Civil and the Attorney General’s Office to help combat the trade.
An increase in funds for awareness campaigns on poaching designed to reduce demand for goods made from endangered plants and animals is part of the plan. There is also set to be an increase in diplomatic efforts to address the issue at its source.
Support to encourage the development of alternative livelihoods for communities who are involved in the trade and efforts to combat corruption associated with poaching are also part of the plans.
The trade in products from poached plants and animals is reportedly the third most profitable organised criminal activity, dealing in an estimated almost €21 billion every year. This includes the trade in live animals prohibited for sale.
Spain is one of the leading entry points into the EU for the illegal goods because of its location, with exports from Africa and the Americas arriving in its ports.
The Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) estimated that between 2013 and 2014 9,500 cases of animal trafficking and 10,000 of illegal plant shipping were opened.
Products from reptiles were most commonly trafficked into Spain due to the demand for their skin by collectors and leather makers, according to the NGO.
Exotic birds, especially parrots from South America were also trafficked in large numbers. Products from large mammals, some from species nearing extinction, were also common. Authorities recently seized a shipment of 70 whole elephant tusks.
Government plans do not have a set budget but includes details on how much each department will spend from their own funds, according to Spanish media.