Thursday, January 03, 2008

A call for case studies on pet/aquaria industry best practices

Although pets bring companionship and joy into many people's lives, thosewhich are abandoned or escape into the natural environment can becomeinvasive species. For example, abandoned Burmese pythons have becomeestablished in Everglades National Park, Florida (USA) where they consumelarge quantities of native wildlife. In parts of Europe, formerly peteastern grey squirrels (native to the USA) have displaced the native redsquirrel.Because the "pet release" pathway poses risks to biodiversity in allregions of the world, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) willmake it a topic of focus at two upcoming meetings: by its scientific body(SBSTTA) in February and governing body (COP) in May. Preparatorydocuments for the February meeting include a request to the GlobalInvasive Species Programme (GISP) and other relevant organizations for:"best practices for addressing the risks associated with the introductionof alien species as pets, including aquarium species, such as fish,reptiles or insects, and as live bat and live food."(UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/6draft recommendation)Historically, the private sector has not taken a particularly active rolein the CBD process. However, the discussions associated with this forumprovide an opportunity for business leaders to expand partnerships withgovernments and other bodies, provide information on lessons learned andbest practices, and foster industry-informed decision making. The PetIndustry Advisory Council (PIJAC) and the Global Invasive SpeciesProgramme (GISP) are therefore calling for the private sector to providecase studies on activities to minimize the risks of the "pet release"pathway to the environment or human health. These case studies will becompiled and presented to governments at the upcoming session of the CBD'sscientific body as a resource for deliberations and in future efforts tocompile best practices. Such information could also provide guidance fordirect application at the national level.Case studies might, for example, include examples of outreach andeducation to consumers and retailers, best practices for choosing whichpets to buy or sell, standards for inspecting pets for disease andparasites, and/or guidelines for compliance with government regulations.Please include the following information if possible:1) Business type: company, industry association or type of business;location and size;2) Business purpose: area of focus (import, propagation, distribution,retail (store or internet), species of focus, etc.);3) Business practice: the program or activity used to minimize risks ofpet abandonment or release (include information on the target audience,methods for delivery, partnerships, etc.);4) Incentive/rationale: the reason for initiating this work (e.g.,government regulation, risk management, ethical responsibility);5) Measures of success: indicators to identify the impact of the programor activity; and6) Contact: points of contact for further information, web addresses, etc.Given that this process will develop recommendations on how to progress inthis area, additional thoughts on types of guidance or tools that would beuseful for industry are most welcome.Case studies and inputs are requested by 31 January, although we willcontinue to compile examples after that date.Please send your responses via email to: Drs. Stas Burgiel( and/or Jamie K. Reaser( circulate this request to colleagues or other relevant outlets, andfeel free to contact us if there are further questions.Best regards,Jamie K. Reaser, Ph.D., Senior Science and Policy Advisor - Pet IndustryJoint Advisory Council (PIJAC)Stas Burgiel, Ph.D., Technical Liaison - Global Invasive Species Programme(GISP)-- Jamie K. Reaser, PhDSenior Science and Policy AdvisorPet Industry Joint Advisory Council1220 19th Street, Suite 400Washington, D.C. 200361-434-990-9494

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