Honolulu (May 3, 2016) – The legislature passed out Senate Bill 2647 today and will now transmit the bill to the governor. If enacted, Senate Bill 2647 would ban sales of the parts and products of seventeen of the world’s most critically threatened, endangered, or protected species, including native Hawaii species, with certain exemptions for traditional practices, antiques, and other limited uses, making it the largest state ban on the trafficking of products made from endangered wildlife in the United States. The measure would also ban the sale of ivory in Hawaii, which is the third largest market for the product in the U.S., behind New York and California, both of which recently passed state bans against the sale of ivory.
The Hawaii Wildlife Coalition – Vulcan Inc, a Paul G. Allen company, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Humane Society International (HSI), The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Wildlife Conservation Society(WCS), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) – supported the introduction of and championed the bill, which was further supported by hundreds of local residents and dozens of grassroots groups across Hawaii who testified in support of the measure this session.
Many advocates of the measure pointed to Senate President Ron Kouchi and Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran in helping to secure the bill’s passage. Senate Water, Land and Agriculture Committee Chair Mike Gabbard noted, “This policy protects our endangered species and curbs the illegal wildlife trade, while not unnecessarily targeting law-abiding citizens.”
Representative Ryan Yamane, Chair of the House Water and Land Committee, who successfully led House effort stated, “As a result of House discussions with stakeholders, the bill’s final version addresses a range of legitimate issues and a number of exemptions, including those for traditional cultural practices, guns, knives, musical instruments, and antiques. Speaker Souki called this bill a ‘wonderful bill’ when the House took its final vote, and its unanimous passage out of our chamber reflects that.”
“We are honored to welcome Hawaii into ‘the herd’ of other U.S. states, along with nations around the world, that have taken a stand against the ivory trade. We will not let elephants go extinct on our watch,” said John F. Calvelli, executive vice president for the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Natural Resources Defense Council President Rhea Suh added her praise to the bill, noting, “Today Hawaii sends an important message to the world: every state and every country has a role to play in saving our planet’s endangered wildlife. Endangered species have true allies here in the Hawaiian Islands.”
“Kudos to Hawaii for its leadership in helping to save species from extinction. Wildlife traffickers don’t respect borders, so this law takes the profit out of smuggling,” said Jeff Flocken, North American Regional Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare. Humane Society International CEO Andrew Rowan also noted, “We pleased that Hawaii has joined the fight to end poaching and wildlife trafficking. These islands have set an example for the world to follow.”
Jared Axelrod, Government Affairs Manager at Vulcan Inc. observed that this milestone comes only days after Kenya held the world’s largest burn of illegal wildlife products in history. On April 30, the Kenyan Government set fire to 100 tons of elephant ivory and rhino horn in the Nairobi National Park, the estimated street value of which was US $172 million. The event was held to encourage governments to take a stand against the ivory trade. Axelrod stated, “While the timing of the Kenyan burn and passage of the Hawaii bill was not intentional, it is nonetheless a tremendous showing of solidarity between places on opposite ends of the world that have seen so much biodiversity loss. This moment shows how powerful global communities can be in saving our resources."
The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, after releasing an undercover investigation in March revealing how tourists in Hawaii are duped into buying illegal ivory, celebrated the passage of new anti-wildlife trafficking rules in the state. “Because of its key placement in the region, Hawaii has taken a particularly big step in adopting policies to shut down trading in the parts of a wide range of endangered animals,” said HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle. “This policy has outsized importance in the global fight against poaching syndicates.”
A public opinion poll conducted in March indicated that 85 percent of Hawaii residents supported the legislation. Their responses on the survey confirm that Hawaii voters, like the general population, don’t want to see these animals become extinct so their tusks, pelts, teeth and bones can continue to be used as decorations. If signed by Governor Ige, it is anticipated that this legislation will be a focal point of the World Conservation Congress coming to Hawaii this September.
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