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Friday, May 23, 2014

Ivory Ban Relaxed A Little - Museums Should Take Note

The federal government in February issued a ban on on the commercial sale of African elephant ivory. The administrative action came about quickly and was soon met by several complaints, including from museums that could no longer import objects made of ivory. See here for background.

USFWS Director Daniel Ashe
Last week, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Director Daniel Ashe responded to these complaints by issuing revised rules. Director's Order 210, Amendment 1 and revisions to the regulations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora now now offer some relief to museums, musicians, heirs, and some others.

Under the revisions, museums are advised that carved African elephant ivory—not raw ivory—may be imported for a show so long as the ivory was properly acquired before February 26, 1976. That is the date of the African elephant's entry on Appendix I of CITES, the treaty’s most protective category of endangered species. To qualify, there must also be no commercial transfer of the ivory after February 25, 2014. A valid CITES traveling exhibition certificate must be issued as well.

USFWS explained on its web site, "This is a common sense revision that ... will allow for the import of museum specimens and certain other items not intended for sale."

Last week's change also addressed issues surrounding antiques. "On May 15, 2014, we revised Director’s Order 210 to allow the sale of certain 100-year-old items that were either created in the United States or imported prior to September 22, 1982—the date that antique ports were designated. Prior to this decision to allow enforcement discretion, items imported before September 22, 1982, would not be able to be sold." The USFWS went on to say that, "This is a common sense revision to allow for the sale of items that are 100 years old or older but could not have been imported through a designated antique port." Antique ports are specific U.S. ports where antiques made from endangered animals are imported.

Photo credit: USFWS

By Rick St. Hilaire Text copyrighted 2010-2014 by Ricardo A. St. Hilaire, Attorney & Counselor at Law, PLLC. Blog url: culturalheritagelawyer.blogspot.com. Any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission of this post is prohibited. CONTACT INFORMATION: www.culturalheritagelawyer.com