Earlier this year, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc called for a new draft of banning wildlife trade and consumption in the country in response to the coronavirus pandemic. After months of delay, the government finally released new restrictions to strengthen enforcement on governing wildlife trade in the country.

“Importing living or dead wild animals, eggs, larvae, parts and derivatives of wild animals … until there is further direction from the Prime Minister or there is permission by the Prime Minister in special circumstances,” is one of its key provisions.

It also continues to call for the elimination of markets that facilitate illegal wildlife trade as Vietnam is known as a major hub for both domestic and international wildlife trafficking.

“WWF-Vietnam are very pleased to see the issuance of this Prime Ministerial Directive in relation to improving control of trade of wild animals in Vietnam,” said Benjamin Rawson, conservation and program development director of WWF-Vietnam. “While there have been directives which contain some similar language in the past in relation to controlling the hunting, trade and consumption of wildlife, this has, until recently, been an issue of biodiversity conservation.”

This, however, is not an entire ban on wildlife trade in Vietnam, rather it simply calls for heightened enforcement of existing laws on illegal wildlife trade.

Trang Nguyen, founder of Vietnam-based conservation program WildAct, said they are happy and fully support the new directives, but noted there are still some shortcomings.

“The directive does not include the domestic use of wildlife for medicine, or as pets,” she said. “It is also unclear which control or management will be put in place for the domestic, legal trade of wildlife and wildlife farming. The trade of legal wildlife products and places such as wildlife farms are also a cause of zoonotic outbreaks.”

Hong Hoang, founder and executive director of CHANGE, an environmental non-government organization based in Ho Chi Minh City, told Mongabay News in an interview that she hopes the directive will tackle the illegal wildlife trade.

“I think the directive signed by the Prime Minister in this context will make the wildlife trade more like an emergency, an urgent thing to do, which will push ministries and the involved parties to take it more seriously,” she added.

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