Just received this from the AFM, yesterday:
May 16, 2014
On Thursday, May 15, 2014, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Director Daniel Ashe amended a February 25, 2014 Order which placed immediate and unprecedented new travel restrictions on persons traveling with items having component parts of African Ivory. The original Order adversely and substantially affected any musician now seeking to travel abroad with musical instruments containing components fashioned in whole or in part from African elephant ivory. Yesterday's amended Order came about as a result of the tireless work by the AFM and other interested stakeholders to persuade both the executive and legislative branches of government that relief to the problems musicians now face as a result of the Order should be implemented on an expedited basis. Unfortunately, the amended Order falls short of a comprehensive solution for reasons I will illustrate below.
To be clear, the AFM does not oppose President Obama's efforts to curb African rhinoceros and elephant poaching to discourage illegal trafficking in rhino and elephant tusks, driven in large part by rising demand in China. I also want to thank those of you who signed on to our letter to the White House and who completed our survey on the matter, all of which helped create the sense of urgency and provide additional data necessary to move the US government to reassess the matter.
Though the amended Order provides some relief because it now exempts musical instruments transferred from one person to another prior to the new date of February 14, 2014, USFWS has NOT provided clearer guidance on how to traverse the CITES permit process. Specifically, the amended Order continues to invoke Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) permit regulations. The Service still requires the following requirements be met before you can safely travel in and out of the US with a musical instrument containing African elephant ivory. It now requires that:
1. The ivory contained in the instrument was legally acquired prior to February 26, 1976;
2. The instrument must not have subsequently been transferred from one person to another person for financial gain or profit since February 25, 2014;
3. The person or group qualifies for a CITES musical instrument certificate;
4. The musical instrument containing African elephant ivory must be accompanied by a valid CITES musical instrument certificate or an equivalent CITES document.
Number 4 above is the big rub. Musicians will still need to produce ownership documents in order to apply for an official CITES certificate or passport. Unfortunately, oftentimes a bill of sale and/or documents that certify the instrument's content or "pedigree” and proving time of purchase are almost impossible to ascertain. Moreover, due to lack of guidance from USFWS, there is still confusion over where to go, either online or in person, to apply for and obtain the correct permit. Since musicians have been singled out, we believe there should be a one-stop online center for information specifically regarding musical instruments. These issues should have been addressed along with the amended Order as well. They too must be resolved.
This week I was in Washington DC working with AFM National Legislative Director Alfonso Pollard, visiting with congressional offices on this and other important legislative issues. My visit included a meeting at the Department of Transportation to address procedural issues relating to an upcoming meeting with the airline industry in an effort to reach an agreement on implementing previously adopted legislation covering musical instruments as carry-on baggage.
As for the African Ivory issue, please be assured that I am continuing to reach out to Congress and the White House to push for a final comprehensive solution. We thank you and we also thank our friends in the Congress for supporting our efforts. We vow not to stop until there is an appropriate resolution on this and other legislative matters that affect the livelihood of professional musicians.
Please continue to work with us and add your voice to the debate. We appreciate your participation and your membership. We will keep you apprised.
Raymond M. Hair, Jr., International President
American Federation of Musicians
of the United States and Canada
James Jeter, D.M.A., NYC Bassoonist
"To love human beings is still the only thing worth living for; without that love, you really do not live." Soren Kierkegaard
"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." Mahatma Gandhi "Mach' es kurz! Am Juengsten Tag ist's nur ein Furz!" Goethe