The importation and export of regulated wildlife is governed by federal legislation, particulary the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth).
Rather than expressely prohibiting the importation and export of regulated wildlife, the legislation establishes a permit system and places stricter controls on certain animals.
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CITES stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangererd Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Australia is a signatory to the Convention. CITES classifies species in 3 groups:
- Appendix I: Highly endangered species
- Appendix II: Threatened species
- Appendix III: Endangered in some countries
Under section 303CD of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) a person is guilty of an offence by importing a CITES specimen without an authorised permit. The maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment. There are exceptions that apply, including if the specimen is not live.
Section 303CC provides for an offence of exporting a CITES specimen. This similarly carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.