Environmental Whistleblowers

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From The Environmental Law Institute.

Illegal timber trade comprises 15-30% of the global timber trade according to Interpol, valued at USD$51-152 billion every year. Monitoring logging activities and enforcing forestry laws is notoriously difficult.

To celebrate this year’s International Day of Forests on March 21, join the Environmental Law Institute, the National Whistleblower Center, and the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement for this co-sponsored seminar, drawing on the experiences of experts in the forestry sector to explore the role of citizens in combating forest crime. Panelists will consider the challenges of enforcing timber harvesting regulations, the environmental impacts of the proliferation of illegal logging, the use of existing legal provisions to incentivize citizen enforcement, and how practitioners can support this process.

This webinar is part of an ongoing seminar series that examines how whistleblower laws, emerging technologies, and citizen engagement are transforming the landscape of environmental enforcement. The series aims to build capacity among government agencies, non-profit organizations and individuals about whistleblower considerations. This seminar series will also examine how various stakeholders may harness the power of new technologies and existing legal frameworks to support environmental defenders and encourage environmental whistleblowing.

Click here to register for the webinar. 

If poachers and wildlife trafficking networks operate like international criminal syndicates, why not treat them that way? That’s one approach outlined in a bill reintroduced in Congress today designed to bolster efforts to use whistleblower rewards to stop wildlife crime. 

The bill aims to address problems with existing wildlife whistleblower programs that were identified in May by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). It expands on existing whistleblower provisions and calls for new rules and the authority to enforce them.

The Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act was reintroduced by Republican Rep. Don Young of Alaska – who calls himself an avid sportsman — and California Democrat John Garamendi, who describes himself a conservationist and outdoorsman.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “NOAA) each currently have the option to reward whistleblowers who expose poaching, trafficking and other wildlife crimes. But, the 2018 GAO audit found that agencies’ programs are underused and inefficiently implemented.

The Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act would give more muscle to existing programs. The bill also would require that penalties and fine from prosecutions be redistributed to wildlife conservation efforts.

Continue Reading Bill would bolster reward programs that allow US agencies to fight wildlife crime with whistleblowers

“Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help. Only if we help shall they be saved.” – Jane Goodall

On July 14, 1960, Jane Goodall first stepped foot in Gombe Stream National Park. Over the past 58 years, Goodall has taught humans around the world to understand, care about, and help chimpanzees. For this reason, July 14th is marked as World Chimpanzee Day.

Today, our closest biological cousin is an endangered species.

Since 2015, chimpanzees have been classified as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. Today, only 172,700 to 299,700 chimps are believed to remain; the population of western chimpanzees has decreased about 80% over the past quarter century. Human activities, including poaching, have been central to the precipitous drop in population. Not only are chimps slaughtered for bush meat, which is sold for profit in local marketplaces, but infant chimps are also kidnapped to be sold as pets. Other forms of human interaction with the environment such as logging have been detrimental to chimpanzee populations as they lead to habitat destruction.

Continue Reading How Whistleblowers Can Help Save Chimpanzees

blue-ocean-with-three-shipsA review of 100 recent Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) prosecutions available on Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) sheds light on the bipartisan support for the whistleblower provisions in combating ocean pollution. From President Clinton, to Bush, to Obama, and now to Trump, law enforcement has continued to utilize whistleblowers as a crucial components of APPS enforcement. The data shows that rewards were given to whistleblowers during both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Continue Reading Whistleblowers are Crucial to Combating Ocean Pollution

WASHINGTON, D.C. | July 5th, 2018—A group rallied outside the Embassy of Mexico on Thursday morning, urging the Mexican government to protect the vaquita, a porpoise native to the country’s waters. Representatives from the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), and other concerned persons braved the blistering summer weather and joined forces to shed light on the rapidly declining population of the rare porpoise. Signs with phrases such as SAVE THE VAQUITA and FEWER THAN 30 LEFT, written in both Spanish and English, were held by the group, who wore shirts reading “Extinction is Forever.” Some members of the rally took to the street with signs raised above their heads, trying to grab the attention of passing cars.

Continue Reading Conservation Groups Rally at Mexican Embassy in Support of Critically Endangered Vaquita

This is a multi-part series on the Whistleblower Protection Blog covering the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018. 

Whistleblowers are a key component of fighting fraud and corruption. From securities to regulations to wildlife trafficking, whistleblowers help report, investigate, and prosecute those who fail to follow the rules. The National Whistleblower Center has more than 30 years of history advocating for whistleblowers and strongly supports the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018 (H.R. 5697), a bill which will protect species under threat by expanding protections and rewards for wildlife whistleblowers.

Continue Reading H.R. 5697 Series—Part IV: Utilizing Best Practices To Combat Wildlife Crime

The two organizations join forces to combat wildlife trafficking around the globe

THE HAGUE / WASHINGTON, D.C. | May 24th, 2018 The Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC) and National Whistleblower Center (NWC) have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a framework for cooperation, develop joint endeavors, and exchange information with regards to transnational wildlife crime.

Continue Reading The Wildlife Justice Commission and National Whistleblower Center Form Partnership

The Securities and Exchange Commission building, located in Washington, D.C.

Members of Congress are urging the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate the illegal trafficking of wildlife on Facebook. On May 14th, Representatives Raul Grijalva (AZ) and Jared Huffman (CA) filed a letter to the SEC saying that Facebook was breaking laws that require public companies to protect shareholders and prevent illegal activity. The letter demanded an investigation into the illegal wildlife trafficking on Facebook.

D.C.-based law firm Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto (KKC) sparked the Congressional inquiry after filing a complaint with the SEC alleging the social media giant facilitates illicit trade in wildlife products. KKC previously filed the anonymous complaint against Facebook in August 2017.

Continue Reading ABC News Washington Story Highlights Congressional Inquiry into Illegal Wildlife Trafficking on Facebook

This is a multi-part series on the Whistleblower Protection Blog covering the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018. 

On May 8, 2018, Representative Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU) and Don Young (R-AK), introduced H.R. 5697, the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act (WCATA) of 2018. The bipartisan bill will “support wildlife conservation, improve anti-trafficking enforcement, [and] provide dedicated funding for wildlife conservation at no expense to the taxpayer.” It includes critical whistleblower provisions necessary to incentivize informants to risk their careers (or their lives) to report trafficking.

Continue Reading H.R. 5697 Series—Part I: The Extinction Crisis

Panamanian Golden Frog (Atelopus zeteki) is already extinct in the wild.

At the annual Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Reception, Capitol Hill got an up-close and personal view of just how important, and fascinating, biodiversity is to our planet. During the event, members of Congress spoke about wildlife trafficking and efforts to protect endangered species, and AZA representatives discussed how zoos and aquariums provide information about wildlife conservation to the public.

Continue Reading AZA Congressional Reception Brings Attention to Wildlife Trafficking