Many species of animal and plant have died out as a result of intensive commercial trade in those species. Even more rare species will become extinct if that trade is not stopped. It is the intention on a global level to tackle the trade in endangered species of fauna through laws and regulations.
In 1975, the Washington Convention was organised. The official name of that convention was the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna en flora, or 'CITES'. CITES forms the basis for the international cooperation in the fight against international commercial trade in endangered species. The convention adopted rules for protecting species threatened with extinction. The severity of those rules depends on the degree to which a particular species is endangered. Trading in seriously endangered species in entirely prohibited. The trade in less endangered species is only permitted if that the governments involved in that trade have issued special CITES documents.
Dutch national regulations concerning the protection of endangered species are set out in the Flora and Fauna Act ('Flora- en fauna wet'). This Act states, among other things, what domestic and foreign species of fauna and flora are considered to be endangered, and includes a prohibition on the possession of, transport of and trade in those species. In addition, the Flora and Fauna Act states that an exemption may be granted from this prohibition in some situations. The Minister Economic Affairs grants these exemptions.
Customs' supervision primarily concerns endangered domestic and foreign species of animals and plants, as well as products thereof, that are brought into or taken out of Dutch territory. Examples include ivory and coral objects. This supervision is conducted mainly at the external frontier, when the goods enter the Netherlands, but also at other places in the Netherlands.