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Industry groups call for loosening of CITES rules

CITES, which regulates the movement of instruments constructed from threatened species, is hurting touring artists, says Pearle* and others

By Jon Chapple on 26 Sep 2016

Ivory piano keys, CITES resolution 16.8

Piano keys made with CITES-listed ivory

Pearle* and six other music industry bodies have called for a revision of CITES resolution 16.8 – the regulations covering the cross-border movement of musical instruments made with endangered flora or fauna – stating they are currently “deeply concerned about the difficulties encountered by the professionals we represent when they travel and tour with musical instruments containing CITES-listed species”.

In a joint statement, Pearle* (Performing Arts Employers Associations League Europe), the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), the International Federation of Musicians (FIM), the League of American Orchestras, the International Association of Violin and Bow Makers (EILA), the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers and the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) say “reasonable and practical procedures are urgently needed” to minimise travel delays and administrative burdens for musicians travelling with instruments containing species listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), including ivory, rosewood, mother of pearl and lizard skin.

“Musical instruments are built with highly sophisticated craftsmanship… using these instruments does not raise any conservation concern”

While reiterating their “commitment and support of the CITES objectives as regards the combat against wildlife trafficking, including illegal trade of ivory and other protected species”, the seven groups request delegates to CITES’s 2017 general meeting (CoP17) – currently being held in Johannesburg – to recognise that “musical instruments are built with highly sophisticated craftsmanship”; that “some of them are unique and, as such, represent genuine cultural treasures”; and that, “given that using these instruments does not raise any conservation concern, we would like to respectfully request member states to agree upon simplified travel procedures” (as follows):

1. Uniform procedures and harmonised rules when crossing international borders are crucial for musicians and orchestras, in order to avoid travel delays and financial burdens. We therefore urge all CITES parties to harmonise the rules that apply when travelling with musical instruments and the implementation of resolution 16.8

2. The certificate itself should be issued in a more flexible way. Many musicians play on extremely expensive instruments that are owned by orchestras or patrons (thanks to generous loan programs [sic]). As a consequence, the fact that an instrument is “personally owned” is not a relevant criterion. We therefore recommend that this reference be removed

3. Travel delays could be significantly reduced by simplifying inspecting and credentialing procedures. Subject to the regulatory framework being adapted along the lines above, controls upon request would limit the administrative burden and help reduce delays at the border

The revision of resolution 16.8 is the 42nd item on the CoP17 agenda.


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