More Good News for the Caribbean: JetBlue, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partner to Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade


I am a little late posting this – in fact, this press release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is dated March 3, 2016. But this is fantastic news for the Caribbean! As you may recall, this year’s World Environment Day turned the spotlight on the illegal wildlife trade under the theme “Go Wild for Life.” The World Wildlife Fund is spearheading the global campaign against a trade – or rather, a crime – that is getting way out of hand. Its 2014 Living Planet Report found wildlife populations of vertebrate species—mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish—have declined by 52 percent over the last 40 years. Meanwhile, the USFWS is working hard in several regions – including Africa and Central America, and is a major supporter of BirdsCaribbean, which has been focusing on the impact of the trade on our wild parrots. BirdsCaribbean used illegal wildlife trafficking as its theme for the recently concluded Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival. And JetBlue, which has expanded its Caribbean routes recently, has a very interesting “green ” program – take a look. So it’s good to know that work is being done, but we must be vigilant. 

All species of sea turtles in the Caribbean are endangered and vulnerable to illegal trafficking. (Photo: Troy Mayne/World Wildlife Fund)
All species of sea turtles in the Caribbean are endangered and vulnerable to illegal trafficking. (Photo: Troy Mayne/World Wildlife Fund)

JetBlue (Nasdaq: JBLU) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced they are joining forces to encourage and empower travelers to play a role in protecting the beauty and wildlife of one of the world’s most popular destination regions: the Caribbean. An increase in illegal wildlife trade in the area is contributing to the decline and potential extinction of indigenous animal species such as sea turtles, parrots, iguanas and coral.

“Tourism brings 22 million visitors a year to the Caribbean. Degradation of wildlife and biodiversity is a risk to demand for air travel to the region, thus impacting JetBlue,” said Sophia Mendelsohn, head of sustainability, JetBlue. “We’ve partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to create a large-scale dialogue and action highlighting the numerous ways to travel, eat and shop in the Caribbean, leaving the region stable for future tourism.”

On World Wildlife Day, JetBlue and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed a five-year partnership agreement, which will launch with a customer education and awareness campaign. The Service and JetBlue will work together beyond the initial onboard video to develop online content, social media campaigns and strategies that will reduce demand for illegal wildlife.

JetBlue will use one of its core differentiators – TVs available at every seat on all flights – to inform customers about responsible travel and shopping practices in the Caribbean. JetBlue will recruit Caribbean natives including those in the travel industry to tell their stories in a short inflight video. Participants will discuss their commitment and efforts to protect the future of tourism and the natural resources of their local communities and countries. The call will identify stories that showcase tangible solutions are underway.

“The Caribbean is considered to be a wildlife trafficking hotspot,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “We are thrilled to work with JetBlue to empower travelers and Caribbean residents to reduce demand for illegal wildlife. We are committed to protecting these special places and species, and with the public as our partners, we can support conservation worldwide by asking questions and learning the facts before buying any wildlife or plant product.”

Black coral (seen in this photograph to the right) is protected by international law. This is a coral reef in St. Lucia. (photo: Chuck Savall/Marine Photobank)
Black coral (seen in this photograph to the right) is protected by international law. This is a coral reef in St. Lucia – many black coral forests have been destroyed because of the now illegal trade. (photo: Chuck Savall/Marine Photobank)

JetBlue’s Commitment to the Environment – JetBlue depends on natural resources and a healthy environment to keep its business running smoothly. Natural resources are essential for the airline to fly and tourism relies on having beautiful, natural and preserved destinations for customers to visit. The airline focuses on issues that have the potential to impact its business. Customers, crewmembers and community are key to JetBlue’s sustainability strategy. Demand from these groups for responsible service is one of the motivations behind changes that help reduce the airline’s environmental impact. For more on JetBlue’s conservation initiatives, visit http://jetblue.com/green.

JetBlue is New York’s Hometown Airline™, and a leading carrier in Boston, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Los Angeles (Long Beach), Orlando, and San Juan. JetBlue carries more than 35 million customers a year to 96 cities in the U.S., Caribbean, and Latin America with an average of 900 daily flights. For more information please visit http://jetblue.com.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.

Contact(s):
Laury Parramore
703-358-2541
Laury_Parramore@fws.gov

JetBlue Corporate
Communications
718-709-3089
corpcomm@jetblue.com

Reptiles are in great demand for the pet trade. This is the very rare San Salvador Rock Iguana from the Bahamas. 13 of these iguanas were found at Heathrow Airport, stuffed in socks. The authorities returned the reptiles to the Bahamas. Photo by James St. John licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license
Reptiles are in great demand for the pet trade. This is the very rare San Salvador Rock Iguana from the Bahamas. 13 of these iguanas were found at Heathrow Airport in 2014, stuffed in socks. The authorities returned the reptiles to the Bahamas. Photo by James St. John licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

 


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