In 2014, the Obama administration announced a new National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking initiative, effectively banning the commercial sale of elephant ivory. As a result the White House has directed federal departments and agencies to
- Prohibit Commercial Import of African Elephant Ivory: All commercial imports of African elephant ivory, including antiques, will be prohibited.
- Prohibit Commercial Export of Elephant Ivory: All commercial exports will be prohibited, except for bona fide antiques, certain noncommercial items, and in exceptional circumstances permitted under the Endangered Species Act.
- Significantly Restrict Domestic Resale of Elephant Ivory: Finalize a proposed rule that will reaffirm and clarify that sales across state lines are prohibited, except for bona fide antiques, and will prohibit sales within a state unless the seller can demonstrate an item was lawfully imported prior to 1990 for African elephants and 1975 for Asian elephants, or under an exemption document.
- Clarify the Definition of “Antique”: To qualify as an antique, an item must be more than 100 years old and meet other requirements under the Endangered Species Act. The onus will now fall on the importer, exporter, or seller to demonstrate that an item meets these criteria.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has been tasked with developing specific rules and regulations for oversight and enforcement. Along with other music and musician organizations, NAMM is actively advocating for the development of compliance rules that assure fair and legal trade of instruments that contain ivory and that regulations are congruent with exiting requirements (CITES, etc.). The release of proposed rules and a public comment period is expected in the coming months. NAMM continues to be active in advocacy and oversight of rule development process and will advise NAMM Members of the public comment period. NAMM Members seeking further clarification on the ivory ban can visit the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife’s FAQs.