Lacey Act Amendments of 2023, has been introduced in the Senate intended to amend the Lacey Act
New legislation, S. 1614 Lacey Act Amendments of 2023, has been introduced in the Senate intended to amend the Lacey Act. The legislation is not needed and would stop or severely impede import and interstate trade in live aquatic animals.
The current Lacey Act provides the authorization to prevent the importation and interstate movement of invasive species. The goals of Lacey Act Amendments of 2023 are achieved through existing authorities provided by the Act:
- Tribes and states regulate or restrict nonnative species. Under the Lacey Act it is unlawful to import, export, sell, acquire, or purchase fish, wildlife or plants that are taken, possessed, transported, or sold: 1) in violation of federal, state or tribal law, or 2) in interstate or foreign commerce involving any fish, wildlife, or plants taken possessed or sold in violation of State or foreign law. The 50 sovereign states and tribes currently prohibit or restrict species as appropriate to their jurisdictions.
- For 120 years the Lacey Act has provided the Secretary of Agriculture, and now the Secretary of Interior, with the power to ban importation of animals “injurious to human beings, to the interests of agriculture, horticulture, forestry, or to wildlife or the wildlife resources of the United States.” Recent analysis points to this successful use of import prohibitions by the Department of the Interior.
Regulating Interstate Trade
We oppose the S. 1614 for empowering the Secretary of Interior (Secretary) to prohibit the interstate movement of nonnative or native animals within the continental United States. This provision does not provide any flexibility to the Secretary to allow interstate trade of species in regions of the country where these animals pose little to no risk. The proposed federal prohibition in S. 1614 is a blanket prohibition nationwide.
We oppose S. 1614 for empowering the Secretary to list a species under emergency rule for a three-year period without due process involving advance notice, opportunity to comment, public hearings, etc.
Presumptive Prohibition on Importation
We oppose S. 1614 for empowering the Secretary to create, with public comment, an approved list of species for importation. Approved lists, commonly known as “White Lists,” are unusual for the federal government as a regulatory body or signatory or participant to international agreements and organizations predicated on prohibiting or restricting species trade for at-risk animals.
- A White List may be challenged by World Trade Organization members.
- A White List will increase the numbers of individual animal identifications by 28 times the current responsibility of inadequately staffed ports of entry inspection personnel.
- The responsibility placed upon the Secretary’s port and border crossing inspectors to rapidly and accurately distinguish the currently required 785 Lacey Act Injurious Wildlife species, 693 Endangered Species Act listed species, 6,006 CITES listed species and the 204,614 species potentially required by S. 1614 will overwhelm port facility ability to provide for animal care and welfare.
We recommend the current Lacey Act can be improved by:
- Adopting the unbiased, science-based risk analysis process described in Science and Decisions: Advancing Risk Assessment published by the National Research Council.
- Publicly posting and maintaining in real-time tribal, state, and federal nonnative species regulations so that the public (domestic owners and producers and foreign visitors and importers) could be informed as to these current and everchanging regulations.
- Provide funding to the states, tribes, territories and possessions to improve their risk analysis capabilities and capacities to refine their restrictions or prohibitions.
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