U.S. Government Refocuses on Enforcing the Lacey Act

Background

Historically, the Lacey Act was originally created, passed, and enforced in 1900 by the United States government. The purpose of this act was and is to monitor the import, export, trade, and sale of foreign wildlife within the United States of America. Covered under both, international and domestic law, the Lacey Act prohibits any form of trade, sale, or transport of foreign of wildlife into or out of the country, deeming in unlawful or illegal and was the first federal law passed and enacted in efforts to protect wildlife. Fish, plants, and all forms of wildlife are protected under this act, in effort to prevent the transfer of foreign disease and other such problems that could arise from introducing a foreign species into a native eco-system.

Since 1900, the Lacey Act has been amended, several times. Over the years, these amendments were passed to protect additional species of plants and wildlife, including big game, reptiles and amphibians, as well as sea life, such as mollusks and crustaceans. Additionally, Congress has added and revised the statute to read that it is unlawful for any person to “knowingly” transport, trade, sell any wildlife into/out of the United States.

The Lacey Act in Current Events

Recent events and news have put the Lacey Act in the spotlight, once again. Today, there have been startling revelations regarding illegal logging in Russia, as well as other parts of the world. In 2008, the United States passed an amendment making it unlawful to transport, sell, trade, export, or import, any plant life, into or out of the U.S., including trees, and illegal logging. The United States Environment Investigation Agency (EIA) has reported that millions of acres of Russia’s forests have been destroyed as a result of the illegal logging and trade. The destruction of these forests has created an even greater threat for the few Siberian tigers that are left in this world. With only an approximate 450 of these Siberian beauts remaining, the United States Congress and EIA are fervently searching for a solution for this problem, which has since, led them to uncover countless cases of neglect, fraudulent documents, and corrupt government officials, around the world.

What You Should Know

In light of the recent discoveries, the United States is hammering down on all imports and exports, specifically regarding the Lacey Act.

• Violations include any: import, export, transport, sale, receipt, purchase, or acquisition of fish, plant, and wildlife, covered under United States law.
• Unite States law mandates the declaration and proper documentation of any of the above acts, pertaining to all forms of fish, plant, and wildlife.
• All documentation, specifically regarding imports and exports, must be filed 24 hours prior to the departure of the transport vessel
• Ignorance of the law(s) is irrelevant (not an excuse)
• Individual parties are responsible for proper documentation and meeting submission deadlines, not the middle-man or third-party.

Summary of Violations:

In addition to the penalties enforced by various government agencies, any person who violates the Lacey Act is subject to the following penalties:

• Civil Penalties – $10,000 per violation
• Criminal Penalties – $20,000
• Criminal Penalties – Up to 5 years imprisonment
• Forfeiture of any equipment and means of transportation, involved (including, boats, aircraft, vehicles, etc.)
• Revocation of permits/licenses
• Refusal of future import/export rights

H.W. St. John urges all clients to visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/lacey_act/, for more detailed information on the Lacey Act and links to necessary forms. You can also call us at (516) 596-4000 or fill out our inquiry form on our homepage at www.hwstjohn.com.