Endangered species law enacted after more than a decade

A law governing the trade in endangered plants and animals has come into effect 11 years after passing through the Legislative Assembly. 

The law brings Cayman closer to compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, but the law will need updates to bring the islands into full compliance by a 2016 deadline or Cayman could face trade restrictions. 

The treaty, which most countries in the world are party to, requires local legislation to control the import and export of endangered species. 

According to Minister of Environment Wayne Panton, the law creates a framework for species such as black coral and queen conch, which are listed in the treaty as endangered. 

“We must have proper mechanisms in place that allow local vendors, who sell these products to international clients, to trade in these species in ways that are completely compliant with the CITES framework,” Mr. Panton said in a press release this week. 

The Endangered Species (Trade and Transport) Law 2004 replaces earlier endangered species protection laws. Gina Ebanks-Petrie, director of the Department of Environment, said the law also works alongside the new National Conservation Law and several other laws that set the list of endangered species in the Cayman Islands and how to manage those natural resources. 

One part of the law, dealing specifically with registering companies that trade in species on the international endangered list, has not yet been brought into force. Once that piece of the legislation comes into effect, Cayman will be able to track legal trade and make it harder for poachers to send endangered species such as rare orchids or black coral overseas, Ms. Ebanks-Petrie said in the statement. 

Older laws currently govern poaching in the islands, she said. 

“By making it harder for poachers, we’ll make it easier for business owners who are conducting transactions in the legal international trade of listed species,” she said. 

The United Kingdom signed the treaty in 1976 and extended it to the Cayman Islands in 1979. The treaty has been updated several times, requiring member nations to update local rules. 

Mr. Panton