Interior signs anti-trafficking agreement with Vietnam

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed a memorandum of understanding last week with Vietnam’s Minister of Public Security General Tô Lâm, committing both countries to fight wildlife trafficking.

The agreement is intended to allow the two countries to better share information, exchange best practices and strengthen bilateral investigations into wildlife trafficking crimes. In additional to the recently penned agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is hoping to station a law enforcement agent at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi.

Smuggling wildlife across international borders and selling it in violation of the law has become a multi-billion dollar illegal enterprise. Wildlife trafficking threatens biodiversity and conservation efforts for multiple species around the world. Vietnam is a key location for wildlife trafficking for a variety of species, including the pangolin (Cricetomys gambianus), the most trafficked species in the world.

American and Vietnamese officials have been developing the agreement for the last four years, building on existing efforts to curb wildlife trafficking. Officials hope the new agreement will allow for stronger coordination and collaboration between the USFWS, which enforces wildlife trade regulations in the U.S. and assists with international efforts, and Vietnamese officials.

The administration’s budget recommendation for Fiscal Year 2020 released last month included an $800,000 increase for the Service’s international affairs office, bringing funding for the program up to $16.6 million to address wildlife trafficking through grants, technical assistance and other initiatives.

Header Image: The endangered pangolin is the most trafficked animal in the world. ©U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service