Plan to protect endangered species from illegal trade

  • Hon Eugenie Sage

The Government is planning to strengthen New Zealand’s measures to prevent international trade in endangered species the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced today.

“In New Zealand we value and seek to protect endangered species, both our indigenous species, and those from elsewhere in the world.  By reviewing the Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989 we aim to strengthen their protection,” said Eugenie Sage.

“There is growing concern worldwide about the role that trade in elephant ivory plays in the poaching and decline of elephant populations.  New Zealand’s domestic market for ivory is thought to be small but the domestic sale of elephant ivory items is not currently regulated in New Zealand.  

“The costs and benefits of stronger regulation of the trade in elephant ivory, within New Zealand and at the border, are part of this review of the law. Options for stronger regulation range from a ban on the domestic sale of elephant ivory in New Zealand, a ban with some exemptions for items such as antiques and musical instruments, to establishing a register of elephant ivory sellers and tracking all elephant ivory items that are sold,” she said.

“Public comment is welcome on these and other options in the discussion document on proposed changes to the Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989 (TIES Act).”

TIES is the legislation that implements New Zealand’s international commitments to regulate trade in endangered species across New Zealand’s borders.

“The review of the TIES Act aims to ensure New Zealand is fulfilling its commitments to ensure trade in endangered species is not detrimental to the survival of species in the wild.

“The proposals in the discussion document ensure that we can continue to facilitate conservation of endangered species and combat their illegal or unsustainable trade,” Eugenie Sage said.

The review is also looking at how to improve the way the TIES Act operates, and make it easier to implement New Zealand’s international obligations to regulate international trade in endangered species. 

The release of the discussion document follows the recent international conference on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) held in Switzerland from 17 to 28 August.

“With a fresh international focus on ways to protect endangered species from illegal trade, now is the ideal time for us to review how we operate and enforce regulations,” says Eugenie Sage.

The discussion document can be found on DOC’s website at, including a list of questions to help guide submissions. Public consultation will run from 24 September to 25 October.