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Parliament will soon pass laws with stiffer penalties for persons who are found guilty of exporting wildlife without the permission of officials of the Forestry and Wildlife Division, says Ronald Charles, the department's protection officer.

"I tell you they are tough, tougher than what we have today," said Charles.

Dominica's wildlife is currently protected under the Forestry & Wildlife Act Chapter 60:02 of 1976 which states that anyone found guilty of violating the Act "is liable to a fine of $400 and to imprisonment of three months". Charles spoke at a press conference last week to highlight the concern of the Forestry Division over the illegal export of wildlife.

"On Sunday June 30th, a Dominican national bound for one of the French Territories was intercepted at the Roseau Ferry Terminal with a large quantity of crayfish. The crayfish was frozen and contained in a suitcase," a statement from the Division said. "The amount of crayfish that was involved is cause for serious concern. There is reason to believe that the shipment was meant for trade purposes. The fragility of our wildlife populations, particularly, the game species, does not allow for the development of any level of foreign trade. Any such attempt is sure to place our wildlife resources in great peril."

Charles said hucksters who travel to Guadeloupe and Martinique are frequent violators of the law prohibiting the export of wildlife.

"The hucksters have to come in for some tongue lashing," Charles said "The hucksters are not doing Dominica a service in that respect. They are led by the power of the Euro in the French Islands and they seem to care two hoots about what is happening to Dominica's wildlife."

The statement added "the Division would like to appeal to the conscience of the Dominican people particularly those who earn a living through the inter-island trade to desist from this practice and to join local efforts aimed at conserving Dominica's wildlife resources.

"The Division cannot over emphasize the need for all interests in Dominica, the Hucksters, the police, the Port Security, business men and women, students and Dominican alike) to pool their resources in order to safe guard the well-being of the country's wildlife resources".


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