Instruments and Protected Species: Important Updates

May 6, 2016

Ports for traveling with CITES permits double!

In response to requests from the League and our partners in the national music community, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) adopted on May 2 a new policy that officially doubles the number of port locations that musicians can use when traveling internationally with instruments that contain Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) plant and animal material, or that contain CITES plant material and any (CITES or non-CITES) wildlife material. Previously, CITES musical instrument passports that included, for instance, instruments with both ivory and Brazilian rosewood could only pass through the nine port locations where both USFWS and U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors are present. Under the new policy, if a musical instrument permit contains both plant and animal material, or if the instrument contains CITES plant material and any (CITES or non-CITES) wildlife material, musicians may use any of the 18 ports in which USFWS officials are available to conduct inspections and credential documents. Consult the League's tips for navigating the permit process and our list of designated ports for further details.

New U.S. rules expected for global travel and domestic trade in ivory

The League remains directly engaged with the White House, conservation groups, and top leaders at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the Obama Administration finalizes new rules that will impact international travel and domestic commerce with musical instruments crafted decades ago that contain small quantities of African elephant ivory. At a recent public stakeholder meeting, USFWS Director Dan Ashe said that the music community has been "helpful and supportive" in seeking policy solutions that will allow for continued use of musical instruments while meeting urgent conservation needs. The new rules are expected to be published in June.

Musical instrument passport on EU and US CITES agenda

This September, the U.S. will be one of 182 national delegations convening in South Africa to discuss and modify the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) at the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17). At each step of the process leading up to this event, the League has weighed in to request agreements to streamline and improve the CITES musical instrument passport process. A USFWS announcement on April 28 confirmed that the U.S. "will work with countries at CoP17 to ensure that permitting for musical instruments is streamlined" and that conversations will be supported by a proposal put forward by delegates from the European Union. The League will remain fully engaged in this process as it moves forward.