September 2, 2020
The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is investigating a report of the illegal export of a sculpture made from Lignum Vitae to a Western European Country. The Agency was notified by the Country’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Management Authority on August 21, 2020. The craft item has been seized by the importing country, pending the investigation.
All exports of products made from the Lignum Vitae plant require an export permit from NEPA, as the Lignum Vitae species, which is the national flower of Jamaica is listed as threatened by CITES, and is categorised as an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Stiff penalties for offenders
Morjorn Wallock, Director of the Legal and Enforcement Division at NEPA said, “It is strongly recommended that persons apply for their export permit. Failure to do so may result in legal action that is far more costly. Individuals who fail to secure an export permit are liable for prosecution under the Endangered Species (Protection, Conservation and Regulation of Trade) Act. If convicted before a parish court, they may be fined two million dollars or be imprisoned for a term not exceeding two years. Both fine and conviction may be applied.” She added, “If convicted in the Circuit Court on an indictment, persons may be fined and/or be imprisoned for a term not exceeding ten years. Specimen will also be seized by the importing CITES Country and the exporter charged under their respective national legislation.”
How to apply for CITES Certificates and Permits
Applications for the trade of endangered species are to be made using the prescribed application form, available on the Agency’s website at www.nepa.gov.jm. Completed application forms are to be submitted to The Protection and Conservation Sub-division of the National Environment and Planning Agency, along with the application fee. All applications are processed by the Agency’s Management and Scientific Authorities prior to the granting of permits and certificates.