Wildlife trade and the law

National environment law

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

In Australia, the export and import of wildlife and wildlife products is regulated under the nation's key environment legislation—the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

This legislation aims to:

  • ensure that Australia complies with its obligations under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and the Convention on Biodiversity 
  • protect wildlife that may be adversely affected by trade
  • promote the conservation of biodiversity in Australia and other countries
  • ensure that any commercial use of Australian native wildlife for the purposes of export is managed in an ecologically sustainable way
  • promote the humane treatment of wildlife
  • ensure ethical conduct during any research associated with the use of wildlife
  • ensure that the precautionary principle is taken into account in making decisions relating to the use of wildlife.

The legislation covers three main aspects of wildlife trade:

Imports and exports of endangered plants and animals (CITES)

For the imports and exports of endangered plants and animals (CITES species) the legislation:

Exports of Australian native plants and animals

For the export of Australian native plants and animals the legislation provides:

Export permits cannot be issued for commercial purposes if the specimens are a live Australian native mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian. Specimens can be exported for several non–commercial purposes such as

Imports of live plants and animals

For the imports of live plants and animals the legislation:

Seizures

Specimens that have been illegally obtained or imported can be seized. For more information see:

Regulations

If you would like more information, the relevant regulations are the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2000 .

Complying with permit conditions

Under national environment law, permit holders must meet the conditions stated on their permit. These conditions aim to protect the environment by ensuring that international wildlife trade is not detrimental to the survival of species in the wild.

The department seeks to work cooperatively with permit holders to achieve compliance outcomes. As part of its compliance approach, the department conducts permit reviews.

Other wildlife trade legislation

As well as national environment law—the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, other legislation applies to the import and export of wildlife products, including legislation administered by the:

For more information contact:

The Director
Wildlife Trade Regulation Section
Department of the Environment
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601

Telephone: (02) 6274 1900

Facsimile: (02) 6274 1921

Email: wildlifetrade@environment.gov.au