Poaching of African wildlife remains a problem, fueled by appetite for illegal products in Asia, especially China and Thailand. The United States, like many other countries, is a member of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, an international treaty meant to curb trade in poached wildlife. It is given force at home through such domestic legislation as the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Lacey Act.
Little would one think that protecting African Rhinos would cost lobstermen in the U.S. their livelihood. And yet.
Mind you, many times, the Convention and the ESA are applied in the manner intended. When hunters went on an unauthorized (illegal) African safari and mounted their preys as trophies while in country, they were unable to bring those back in the U.S. That’s all well and good.
But then comes a small group of lobstermen. In addition to their own catch, they purchased a haul taken near the Turk and Caicos. Those honest fishermen had no clue that those were the “wrong” kind of lobsters, not permitted to be caught there under local regulations. For their ignorance, they lost the use of the shipment they’d paid for and were heavily fined on top of it. The story does not say whether their business survived. Stories of fisheries that do not make it in an over-regulated environment are not infrequent.
A 2008 paper by two employees of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service praises the Convention as a useful tool for fisheries management. Fishermen caught in bureaucratic traps may disagree. I do too, perhaps in part because, after perusing a dozen cases at random, I have yet to see the Government lose one. The scales of justice seem just a tad uneven when the federal establishment takes on unsuspecting small businesses.
Better have a good lawyer on your side.