U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Designates Three New Ports for Wildlife
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Importers and exporters dealing in wildlife and wildlife products will soon be able to use three new ports of entry for their shipments, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today.
Memphis, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; and Houston, Texas, will officially become "designated ports" for wildlife trade on January 5, 2005. Service wildlife inspectors will process wildlife imports and exports at these locations, bringing the number of ports nationwide that handle all types of wildlife trade to 17.
"We are pleased to offer expanded inspection services to the wildlife trade community in these cities," said Kevin Adams, chief of the Service's Office of Law Enforcement. "This extension of our inspection operations also promises improved protection for wildlife."
Both Memphis and Louisville are hubs for major international express mail companies that move huge volumes of cargo each year. Memphis International Airport ranks as the world's largest processor of international airfreight, while the Louisville International Airport is the sixth largest handler of air cargo. Neither location, however, has previously been authorized to receive wildlife trade, which is regulated under Federal wildlife laws.
The Service has offered limited inspection services in Houston since the early 1980s, but businesses using this port were required to obtain special permits and pay additional inspection fees. Designation of this port will improve service and reduce costs for businesses and individuals shipping wildlife via the city's three airports and ocean port. Common imports and exports at this location include big game trophies, reptilian leather goods, scientific and museum specimens, live tropical fish, and wildlife curios.
By law, wildlife imports and exports must enter or leave the United States through a designated port, where they are inspected and cleared by Service wildlife inspectors. The system of designated ports (which funnels wildlife shipments through a limited number of locations) and related declaration, inspection, and clearance requirements help the Service ensure that wildlife trade complies with U.S. laws and treaties that protect species worldwide.
The Service has hired and trained inspectors to monitor trade at the new designated ports of Memphis and Louisville, and is working with shipping companies, air carriers, and brokers in these cities to ensure that importers and exporters understand Service requirements for declaring and clearing wildlife shipments. Current inspection staff stationed in Houston will continue processing wildlife imports and exports at that location.
The Service selects designated ports based on such criteria as volume of wildlife shipments and geographic diversity. The agency already provides full wildlife inspection services at 14 other designated ports, including New York/Newark (a dual location port), Boston, Baltimore, Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, and Dallas/Fort Worth. The Service also maintains designated ports at Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland (Oregon), Anchorage, and Honolulu.
The wildlife inspection program serves as the Nation's front-line defense against illegal international wildlife trade. In fiscal year 2004, Service wildlife inspectors processed more than 146,400 wildlife shipments.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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Atlanta, GA 30345