14 Oct 2003

Conference opens in Auckland on wildlife smuggling in Pacific

6:16 am on 14 October 2003

An international conference on wildlife smuggling begins today in Auckland, focussing on the flourishing trade in live animals, and animal products, in the Pacific region.

It is the first time Interpol's working party on the multi-billion dollar trade has held its meeting in the Pacific area and comes two months after the Pacific Island Forum leaders acknowledged a serious and growing problem in this region.

The meeting is being hosted by the New Zealand Wildlife Enforcement Group - or WEG - which is made up of Department of Conservation, Ministry of Fisheries and Customs officials.

WEG's spokesperson, Peter Younger, says the Interpol network already exists for information-sharing and co-operation and the conference aims to build Pacific nations into that network.

"What were hoping to do is expand the strength of that network in the pacific so that we can bring in particularly some of the Pacific island countries into the Interpol group if you like so that when they have a problem that involves their species going to another country then they can work cooperatively with that country where as some of those links particularly at the moment are not very strong."

The spokesperson for New Zealand's Wildlife Enforcement Group, Peter Younger.