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Hong Kong maritime shipping industry preps as territory increases police powers to fight wildlife trafficking

“The ability to stop the illegal wildlife trade lies in our hands – the hands of all the stakeholders operating at the various stages of maritime supply chains – from customs officers and port authorities, to shipping lines and freight forwarders," Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA) Chairman Bjorn Hojgaard said. 
Hong Kong Port is a central node in international trade networks, having consistently ranked among the top 10 busiest shipping ports in the past two decades. Last year, despite the pandemic, the port handled around 18 million TEUs of containers. This also makes it key to global wildlife trafficked networks – indeed, from 2018 to 2020, Hong Kong customs seized over 920 tonnes of wildlife, most of it smuggled in containers on ships.
WWF-Hong Kong hosted a virtual roundtable discussion on wildlife trafficking in the maritime sector on November 10. The event is unprecedented with the support of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA), Hong Kong Liner Shipping Association (HKLSA), and the Hong Kong Freight Forwarders and Logistics Association. Experts from ADM Capital Foundation, HKU Faculty of Law, the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Mediterranean Shipping Company, S.A., and the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA), provided presentations and interventions.
The event aimed to raise awareness in the maritime sector on illegal wildlife trade in Hong Kong, and present to them WWF and TRAFFIC’s The Red Flag Compendium for Wildlife and Timber Trafficking in Containerised Cargo, encouraging adoption of existing tools and to enhance public-private sector partnerships in the maritime sector to combat wildlife trafficking.
The event focused specifically on Hong Kong’s role in illegal wildlife trade, and the recent legal amendment to classify wildlife trafficking offences under the territory’s Organised and Serious Crime Ordinances – and what this means for the maritime sector. Additional topics that were covered included red flags that may indicate the presence of wildlife smuggling in containerized cargo, tools, trainings and responses by governments and private sector.
Featured speakers included industry leaders and wildlife experts:
• Prof. Amanda Whitfort, Associate Professor, The University of Hong Kong (HKU) Faculty of Law
• Sam Inglis, Wildlife Programme Manager, ADM Capital Foundation
• Chunwan Shi, Intelligence Analyst, World Customs Organization (WCO) Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO)
• Capt. Bjorn Hojgaard, Chairman, Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA) & CEO of Anglo-Eastern Univan Group
• Claudio Bozzo, COO, Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A.
• Brian Gonzales, WWF Hong Kong  / WWF Asia-Pacific Counter Illegal Wildlife Trade Hub
• Niels Beuck, Chair of Advisory Body on Safety and Security of the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations or FIATA
Attendees and organisers expressed hope that this event would be the beginning of more collaboration on issues related to illegal wildlife trade and maritime transport, and combined efforts to end to wildlife trafficking via containerized shipping. The event is part of a strategic shipping sector outreach led by WWF with upcoming roundtables in Singapore, China and Japan.  
“I’m glad to have the opportunity to speak to some of the people that are frontline of ensuring that the amendment to Organized and Serious Crimes will make a difference,” Prof Amanda Whitfort, HKU Faculty of Law.
“I hope this event will be the beginning of more collaboration on issues related to illegal wildlife trade and maritime transport. And that our combined efforts allows us to put an end to wildlife trafficking via containerized shipping after the event, I encourage you to share your knowledge and discuss your perspective with your colleagues and counterparts.” said Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA) Chairman Bjorn Hojgaard. 

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