The Federal Environmental Inspection carries out checks on non-indigenous (exotic) species in Belgium:
- plants and animals under threat in accordance with the CITES agreement
- non-indigenous plants and animals deemed to be invasive in accordance with the European regulation on invasive exotic species
The surveillance of the market of animals and plants protected by the CITES agreement concerns living animals, plants and products made with species such as ivory, for example, or naturalised animals.
Checks are carried out:
- in Belgium in stores, pet stores, at animal breeders and private individuals, at antique dealers, auction houses, second-hand goods dealers, flea markets, etc.
- at entry points to the territory; such as airports.
During these checks, the Federal Environmental Inspection works actively with:
- the FPS Finance Customs and Excise for border controls ;
- The FPS Economy for files concerning objects that have been sculpted or not, made with CITES species (old objects in ivory for example) ;
- FASFC when the file also concerns violations of health regulations ;
- the local police in support of specific operations.
Number of checks carried out by the Inspection service in 2017 and 2018
|Certificate of offence||53||134|
|Certificate with seizure||16||23|
Certificate of warning
The largest seizures concern objects in ivory.
During the last checks, coral, naturalised animals, leopardskin, sperm whale and narwhal teeth, dried seahorses, turtle shells, swordfish bills were withdrawn from the market.
Seizures of live animals mainly concern parrots and reptiles for which there is a very intense market in Belgium.
Example: The 2018 Ivory campaign
In 2018, inspectors controlled about thirty Belgian antique dealers and retailers selling items in ivory in order to verify their legality.
34 antique dealers and 3 auction houses were controlled, mainly in Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent. FPS inspectors also visited flea markets and second-hand stores. Every time, they verified the origin of the ivory on sale as well as proof of age and/or the CITES certificates required.
In total, 25 certificates of offence and 12 certificates of warning were issued. More than 170 specimens were seized or voluntarily abandoned. Vendors in violation risk fines of €208 to €400,000.
These strict rules were set up to improve the control of the trade in ivory and, thus, prevent trafficking and poaching in order to protect elephants. As experts, antique dealers have a duty to be informed and inform their customers about the legislation in force.
The DG Environment is the competent authority for controlling the import, export and transit of invasive exotic species in Belgium.
The services of the FPS Finance Customs and Excise and the FASFC are in charge of detecting the introduction of invasive species at borders. These checks are carried out in the frame of their usual checks and on the basis of a protocol concluded with the DG Environment.
The inspectors and controllers of the DG Environment intervene on their request in order to verify whether the consignments concern species deemed to be invasive. These verifications are carried out with the help of the national scientific secretariat for invasive exotic species (link to create to the NSS website once it has been made public).
In the case of violations, the Federal Environmental Inspection draws up reports.
The DG Environment also issues exemption permits for any cross-border movement of invasive exotic species that concerns a Member State of the Union or a third State.