In Belgium, CITES is implemented via European (EU) regulations supplemented by the Belgian CITES law of 28 July 1981 (and its amendments) as well as its implementing royal decree of 9 April 2003.
The law of 1981 provides in particular for:
• the penalties (prison sentences and amount of criminal and administrative fines),
• the designation of the supervisory authorities responsible for ensuring that CITES is implemented in Belgium,
• stricter provisions for certain species.
In Belgium, as in the other CITES member states, the enforcement of CITES is organised around three different structures:
The Belgian CITES management authority
The Belgian CITES management authority is the CITES Unit of the Service Multilateral and Strategic Affairs (AMSZ) of the Directorate General Environment (DG5) of the Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment.
Its main activities are:
• the issuance of CITES documents (import and (re-)export permits, intra-Community certificates, ownership certificates, sample collection and travelling exhibition certificates). These documents can be applied for via the Belgian CITES database;
• the provision of information to private individuals and traders on the procedures for the implementation of the Convention and of the European Regulations via targeted leaflets and circulars for professionals and citizens;
• the development of the procedures for the implementation of the Convention and the Regulations;
• the preparation of the annual and biannual reports, and of all statistics concerning the implementation of CITES in Belgium;
• the training of the supervisory authorities.
The Belgian CITES Scientific Committee
It is divided into five sections: mammals, birds, reptiles and other vertebrates, invertebrates and plants. Each of these sections has from three to five members from different Belgian scientific institutions.
Its main activity is the provision of advice on the issuance of permits for the import of specimens of species listed in Annexes A and B of the EU Regulation from third countries (countries outside the European Union) in order to ensure that the trade in these species does not threaten their survival or the size of their territory.
The Belgian CITES supervisory authorities
The supervisory authorities verify compliance with the provisions of CITES at the points of entry and within the country. They play a crucial role for the enforcement of the implementation of CITES. These authorities work in close cooperation with the management authority.
In Belgium, the supervisory authorities are:
• customs (particularly at the points of introduction: ports and airports),
• the police,
• the inspectors of the AFSCA (Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain),
• the inspection department of the FPS Environment.