15 October 2015

New seizures at Brussels Airport: stony corals from Greece

I have just received information of some new cases at Brussels Airport. With Pol's permission to publish these notices in general (nogmaals bedankt), below you will find one of them.

Seizure of stony corals

This case concerns a seizure of stony corals (Scleractinia spp.) exported from Greece to Canada. Customs found the specimens in the luggage of a traveller during the X-Ray controls.

Transtit or export?

Firts of all, some issues arise when defining whether this was a transit or an export. It is true that the specimens were obtained in Greece and stopped over in Belgium on their way to Canada (transit).

But, having a look at the EU Basic Regulation, this particular case does not seem to fall within its definition of transit as you will see here below:

'transit shall mean the transport of specimens between two points outside the Community through the territory of the Community which are shipped to a named consignee and during which any interruption in the movement arises only from the arrangements necessitated by this form of traffic'

Now: for a transit to take place, the specimens must be exported from a third country outside the EU, pass through any country of the EU and be imported in another country outside the EU. Greece being an EU Member State, one is unable to conclude that this is a transit. Thus: this is an export.

Annex A or Annex B?

Stony corals are included in CITES Appendix II.

But, we have to remember that the EU legislation provides stronger protection to certain species in Appendix II by placing them together with the Appendix I species in the same Annex (Annex A). This is getting complicated...

Having a look at the legislation again, stony corals (Scleractinia spp) are included in Annex B of the EU Basic Regulation

What is the issue here?

Artive IV of the Convention defines the basic rules for Appendix II.

It establishes that for the export of these specimens or species an export permit must be presented.

Thus, as the notice of Belgian Customs explains, an X-Ray to the luggage showed the stony corals. Most likely the owner was asked for the export permit. There was no permit so: No export allowed. The specimens were seized. My guess is that, for the moment, they have been placed in what I will from now on call the 'Ali Baba cave of seized species (ABCS)'. Guess every airport has one...unfortunately though.

More cases in next posts.

Please, do share with me information on seizures if you believe this is worth spreading.

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