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Crimes of a Global Nature

Crimes of a Global Nature

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Published by: Daisy on Nov 17, 2008
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1776 Massachusetts Ave., NWWashington, DC 20036www.worldwatch.org
Crimes of (a) Global Nature
by Lisa Mastny and Hilary French
Working for a Sustainable Future
For more information about WorldwatchInstitute and its programs and publications, pleasevisit our website atwww.worldwatch.org
Excerpted from September/October 2002
© 2002 Worldwatch Institute
September/October 2002
200 left in wild @ $60,000 dollars each =
$12 million
black market prices from $5,000
Global Nature
Forging environmental treatiesis difficult.enforcing them is even tougher.
by Lisa Mastny and Hilary French
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
Millions of dollars
Lear’s Macaw
3 killed per shatoosh shawl
shawls average $3,700 each
275,000 left in wild @ $1,250 each =
$92.5 million
(Tibetan Antelope)
   I   l   l   u   s   t   r   a   t   i   o   n   s   b   y   W   i   l   l   i   a   m   L .   B   r   o   w   n
September/October 2002
Patagonian tooth
sh is beginning to hit close to home.But many Chilean sea bass fans remain unaware thatthey may be accomplices to a growing phenomenonknown as international environmental crime. Although variously de
ned, in this article interna-tional environmental crime means an activity that vio-lates the letter or the spirit of an internationalenvironmental treaty and the implementing national leg-islation. Trade in endangered species, illegal
shing, CFCsmuggling, and the illicit dumping of wastes are all casesin point that are explored below. Illegal logging isanother major category of environmental crime,although environmental treaties currently impose few speci
c constraints on logging (see sidebar,
Logging Illogic 
, page 23). The rapidly growing illegal trade inthese environmentally sensitive products stems fromstrong demand, low risk, and other factors (see side-bar,
Variable Crimes, Constant Incentives 
, next page).The number of international environmental accordshas exploded as countries awaken to the seriousness of transboundary and global ecological threats. The UNEnvironment Programme (UNEP) estimates that thereare now more than 500 international treaties and otheragreements related to the environment, more than 300of them negotiated in the last 30 years.But reaching such agreements is only the
rst step.The larger challenge is seeing that the ideals expressedin them become reality. What is needed is not neces-sarily more agreements, but a commitment to breathelife into the hundreds of existing accords by imple-menting and enforcing them.Here the genteel world of diplomacy often runs intohard-nosed domestic politics. Countries that ratify treaties are responsible for upholding them by enact-ing and enforcing the necessary domestic laws. Thisrequires the backing of businesses, consumers, andother constituencies, which may not be easily secured.Countries with strong fossil fuel industries, for instance,may meet staunch resistance to international rules tomitigate climate change. And countries where naturalresource industries are politically powerful will proba-bly 
nd it dif 
cult to adequately enforce environmen-tal treaties designed to regulate resource-related activity.The effect has been to expand traf 
cking in a numberof restricted substances, an increasingly urgent prob-lem that is beginning to stimulate a stronger interna-tional response.
Trading in Wildlife
Undercover Russian police of 
cers in the port city of  Vladivostok recently trailed two investigators fromenvironmental groups posing as eager purchasers of Siberian tiger skins from a corrupt of 
cial. When thedeal went down, the of 
cers arrested the wildlife traderon the spot. Russian investigators earlier had in
to $30,000
14,000 left in wild @ $10,000 each =
$140 million
Extinction’s Payoff 
Pets,aphrodesiacs,distinctive clothing: these are a fewof our favorite things
even if having them drives aspecies or two to extinction.The staggering prices somethreatened animals fetch on the black market createpowerful incentives for illegal trafficking and helpincrease the risk of extinction.The prices in the graphare probably conservative,since prices would tend torise with increasing scarcity.
ast February, armed troops and
sheries of 
-cials on two Australian navy ships and a heli-copter boarded and seized the Volga and theLena, Russian-
shing vessels operat-ing near Heard Island, some 2,200 nautical miles south- west of Perth. The two ships were found to be carryingabout 200 tons of illegally caught Patagonian tooth-
sh in their holds. This bounty, valued at an estimated$1.25 million, had been taken in violation of conser- vation agreements negotiated under the auspices of the Commission for the Conservation of AntarcticMarine Living Resources.Few casual seafood lovers have heard of Patagon-ian tooth
sh, but many are familiar with Chilean seabass, a different name for the same
sh. Chilean sea bassbegan appearing on menus in the early 1990s, andconsumption of the
aky, white
sh took off fast, quickly endangering the health of the
shery. Large-scale com-mercial
shing of the species began only a decade ago,but scientists estimate that at current rates of plunderthe
sh could become commercially extinct in less than
 ve years. A few months after the drama in the SouthernOcean, a different front in the same battle opened upthousands of miles away in Washington, D.C., wherenearly 60 restaurants and caterers pledged to keep the
sh off their menus. More than 90 restaurants in theLos Angeles area did the same a few weeks later, fol-lowing similar promises by chefs in Northern Califor-nia, Chicago, and Houston. Thus the
ght to save the
100 110 120 130 140

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