A man is facing charges after he allegedly attempted to smuggle two endangerediguanas into Australia on board a cruise ship.
On 19 March 2019, the Australian Border Force (ABF) was notified by thevessel’s crew of a 49-year-old Australian passenger who had been found to bein possession of two live Fijian Banded Iguanas.
On 21 March 2019, ABF Maritime officers boarded the ship when it came intoport in Sydney and conducted an examination of the man’s room and his luggage.
The iguanas were referred to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resourcesto assess the biosecurity risks.
ABF Investigators subsequently attended and interviewed the man, who they willallege acquired the reptiles during a stop in Vanuatu.
ABF Regional Investigations NSW A/g Superintendent John Fleming said the ABFwould continue to work with its partners to stop the impact wildlife-relatedcrime can have on global biodiversity
“Sadly there are people in Australia who are prepared to pay large sums ofmoney for exotic and rare wildlife products – but these people should know weare alert to their activities,” A/g Superintendent Fleming said.
“These iguanas are beautiful animals and it’s obvious why they are appealingto wildlife smugglers. Working with our partners, the ABF will continue to doall we can to put a stop to this cruel trade.”
Acting Head of Biosecurity Operations at the Department of Agriculture andWater Resources, Mark Simpson, said illegal imports of exotic animals canintroduce devastating pests and diseases and, as such, pose a significantbiosecurity risk to Australia.
“Our biosecurity officers worked closely with our ABF colleagues throughoutthis detection to ensure the significant biosecurity risks were managed,” MrSimpson said.
“Any breach of Australian biosecurity is a serious matter and this is anotherexample of effective collaboration between our agencies to stop potentialbiosecurity threats at our border.”
The matter is subject to ongoing investigation. Offences relating to theimportation of CITES listed wildlife under the Environment Protection andBiodiversity Conservation Act 1999 carry a maximum penalty of 10 yearsimprisonment and a fine of up to $210,000.
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