As we usher in 2013, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) is preparing for a series of bills at the state and federal levels dealing with invasive species, as well as regulations on international trade with regard to potentially endangered or threatened species.
The State Level
Several states will revisit their laws and regulations covering invasive species this session. Some states will address animals that are deemed “inherently” dangerous and will look for ways to ensure public health and safety. States such as New York will be publishing a regulatory package designed to implement a 2012 law calling for the establishment of a regulatory process to identify invasive species and create processes for keeping them out of the state.
PIJAC has been advised by an environmental non-governmental organization that legislation similar to Senate 3606 and House 4864 will be reintroduced early in the new Congress. Companion bills SB 3606 and HR 4864 were ostensibly designed to establish an improved regulatory process for injurious wildlife, thereby preventing the introduction and establishment of non-native wildlife and wild animal pathogens and parasites that are likely to cause harm in the United States. These bills were modified versions of HR 669, which was introduced several years ago and, in essence, banned all non-native species as “injurious” until each species was proven to be harmless.
As part of a federal initiative, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is currently conducting risk-screening assessment on some 3,000 species, many of which are in the pet trade, to determine if the species are invasive or potentially invasive. The publication of these screening reports will likely lead to state and federal proposals to ban certain “hot” species. PIJAC, along with organizations representing zoos/aquariums, food aquaculture, sport fishing and all of the 50 states, are collaborating with USFWS to discourage the introduction of invasive species not already in the United States.
A third and ever-increasing area of activity involves proposals to add large groups of species as endangered/threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). During the next 12 months, PIJAC expects to be embroiled in a number of proceedings involving the listing of marine fish (clownfish and damsel fish), corals, parrots, reptiles and amphibians. Once listed under the ESA, international and interstate movement of listed species is prohibited except under very narrow exceptions. For example, if clownfish are listed as “endangered,” all interstate and international trade in captive raised, as well as wild harvested, specimens would be prohibited.
Preparations are underway for the 2013 meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Thailand. PIJAC has attended the CITES Conference of the Parties (COP) since 1979 and actively participates in a number of working groups. During the upcoming 16th Annual CITES COP, the parties will be asked to consider a number of resolutions dealing with transport of live specimens, combating illegal trade, regulating e-commerce, standards for issuing export/import permits, criteria for regulating captive breeding, the impacts of CITES on the livelihoods of the rural poor, and a special review of the snake, tortoise and freshwater turtle trades. PIJAC is currently reviewing 17 species proposals in preparation for the meeting and is monitoring other species proposals. If the listed species is in the CITES Appendices, it will affect the ability of people in the pet industry to engage in trade of that species. A related issue is the lack of population data for U.S. native species. The absence of reliable data in the U.S. means export permits cannot be issued, therefore international trade in listed species will be effectively banned. An increasingly important discussion involves the sustainable use of wildlife and the importance of wildlife trade in the livelihoods of indigenous peoples, especially in developing countries. Currently, CITES covers many species in the pet trade, including 1,295 birds (virtually all Pssitacines), 695 reptile/amphibian species, several fish species and many corals.
PIJAC will continue to work with state legislators, Congress and governmental agencies to assure the viability of pet ownership.
Cathy Calliotte is vice president of marketing and communications for the Washington, D.C.–based Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. PIJAC provides its members a voice in state and national legislative issues through advocacy and timely information regarding upcoming policy issues that affect the pet industry, pet owners and the animals they care for. For more information, visit www.pijac.org.