USFW Answers to PTG Questions
Summer NAMM Roundtable
Final Ivory Rule - 2016
Board Statement on Ivory Ban Issue
The New Ivory Regulations and the Piano Technician
PTG Monthly E-Newsletters
July 27, 2015 Ivory Update
2015 Council Resolution on Ivory
Ivory Task Group
Per the instructions given by the USFW to Shawn Bruce, the questions were submitted in writing via e-mail to:
Laury Marshall Parramore
Division of Public Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: EA
5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803
Those answers were received on June 29, 2016 in an e-mail from Parramore. The unedited questions and the USFW response follow below.
1. How does the new law affect the repair or replacement of ivory keytop veneers on pianos that meet the de minimis requirement?
"Commercial activity" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) means "all activities of industry and trade, including but not limited to, the buying and selling of commodities and activities conducted for the purpose of facilitating such buying and selling…” The Service has defined "industry or trade" (in 50 CFR 17.3) to mean "the actual or intended transfer of wildlife or plants from one person to another in the pursuit of gain or profit."
On page 45161 of the preamble to our proposed rule (80 CFR 45154, July 29, 2015), the section titled Interstate and Foreign Commerce contains information on the ESA definition of “commercial activity” and how the Service implements this definition. We clarify that there are a number of activities involving ivory that would not be prohibited under these ESA standards, provided the activity does not qualify as "sale" or "offer for sale." The example given involves a person transporting an item across state lines for repair (e.g. a piano with ivory keys). This activity would not fall under the prohibition for commercial activity because there would be no transfer of the item from one person to another. The person doing the repair would gain financially, but the payment of money would be to compensate the repair person for labor and expenses and would not involve gain or profit from the ivory itself, unless additional ivory was used to repair the item, which would not be allowed.
a. May ivory salvaged from other pianos or other old stock be used as repair materials on piano keytops (assuming it meets the de minimis requirements)?
No, not if it involves interstate commerce. See response to 1, above. Ivory salvaged from other pianos and used as repair materials where the activity is entirely within the same state is not implicated by the prohibition. However, if the original piano keytop is an antique for purposes of the ESA, the repair would result in the loss of antique status.
b. May ivory keys be removed from the piano and transported across state lines to a repair person and then returned (whether to be repaired with salvaged ivory or other materials)?
Yes, provided there is no additional ivory used in the repair. See response to 1, above.
2. Someone has a 1942 Steinway Grand Piano to sell and it has the original ivory...or wants to buy that same 1942 Steinway across state lines. It meets de minimis requirements.
a. What will be the correct procedure for the sale to meet the new federal requirements?
Sale of this piano, as described, is allowed under the new rule that goes into effect on July 6, 2106. Under the ESA, the person claiming the benefit of an exemption has the burden of showing that the item or activity qualifies for the exemption. The seller must have evidence to show that the piano meets the criteria for the de minimis exception; and the buyer should ask for this documentation. Some states also have restrictions on sale of elephant ivory, so the buyer/seller should also check to be sure they are in compliance with state requirements.
b. Is there any kind of formalized process for establishing reference material? In the case of the piano industry, the commonly used reference is a publication called the Pierce Piano Atlas. Some of our members have used it in past with USFW agents but I don’t think it’s ever been formally recognized as an “official” source.
There is no process for formally recognizing reference material. Provenance may be determined through a detailed history of the item, including family photos, ethnographic fieldwork, or other information that authenticates the article and assigns the item to a known period of time or, where possible, to a known artist, artisan or manufacturer. A qualified appraisal or another method, including using information in catalogs, price lists and other similar materials (e.g., the Pierce Piano Atlas) that document the age by establishing the origin of the item, can also be used.
3. How does USFW anticipate the new rule being used in states where federal law is less restrictive than the state law (New Jersey springs to immediate mind)?
The new rule regulates sale across state lines (interstate commerce) but does not reach to sale within a state (intrastate commerce).
a. Will sellers be able to sell musical instruments meeting the de minimis requirements to buyers across state lines? Vice versa?
Yes. Under the new rule, interstate commerce in musical instruments that meet the criteria for the de minimis exception is allowed; such items may be bought and sold in interstate commerce.
b. Will USFW be encouraging states to adopt or modify legislation to more readily conform with the new federal rule?
We have not actively participated in the development or adoption of state laws regarding ivory trade, and we have no plans to engage the states to adopt or modify their laws, although we routinely provide guidance on the federal requirements and will continue to do so.
PTG representatives Phil Bondi and Shawn Bruce attended the Summer NAMM 2016 Issues roundtable discussion on June 23rd in Nashville. Led by NAMM attorney Jim Goldberg and Mary Luehrsen, NAMM’s main public affairs staffer, the meeting provided insight into the new rules and procedures that are going into effect July 6 governing the sale of ivory.
The presentation confirmed our initial feelings that the music industry came out about as well as it could have in the new regulations with the inclusion of the de minimis exemption. Please note the de minimis exemption is NOT an antique exemption as that’s a different category with different criteria.
We both walked away with a couple of important things to keep in mind:
As much as we might want them to, the USFW is never going to give you affirmation that you’re doing everything correctly. They’ll give you guidelines but they’ll never tell you “good job” so don’t expect that.
Go home and sell instruments. Don’t sell ivory, sell the instrument.
US Fish and Wildlife Service De Minimis Exception Requirements
To qualify for the de minimis exception, manufactured or handcrafted items must meet all of the following criteria:
If the item is located within the United States, the ivory was imported into the United States prior to January 18, 1990, or was imported into the United States under a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) pre-Convention certificate with no limitation on its commercial use;
If the item is located outside the United States, the ivory was removed from the wild prior to February 26, 1976;
The ivory is a fixed or integral component or components of a larger manufactured or handcrafted item and is not in its current form the primary source of the value of the item, that is, the ivory does not account for more than 50 percent of the value of the item;
The ivory is not raw;
The manufactured or handcrafted item is not made wholly or primarily of ivory, that is, the ivory component or components do not account for more than 50 percent of the item by volume;
The total weight of the ivory component or components is less than 200 grams; and
The item was manufactured or handcrafted before the effective date of this rule.
Goldberg made the point that the USFW based the 200-gram figure on the approximate weight of a set of piano keytops. Throughout the ruling, the USFW goes to great lengths to point out that they don’t believe musical instruments are contributing to the poaching of elephants or the ivory trade.
Much concern has been focused on what will be expected to satisfy the USFW in case they have questions about actual age.
There’s also some good news on that front as the USFW said, “Though not required, a qualified appraisal or another method of documenting the value of the item and the relative value of the ivory component, including, information in catalogs, price lists, and other similar materials, can also be used. We will not require ivory components to be removed from an item to be weighed.”
That means a letter from a piano technician, a photocopy of relevant information from the Pierce Piano Atlas and even, (as Goldberg suggested) a handmade certificate with information about age/model/etc. should prove sufficient. Again, the USFW says they know what they’re looking for in terms of ivory smuggling and musical instruments aren’t the problem.
Potential Issues Moving Forward
At this point, the new rules and regulations relating to repairs and the de minimis exemption are vague and there are no hard and fast rules spelled out in the new rule. At one point there was some language about repairs being allowed but replacement not. NAMM questioned that and the agency chose not to address the question in the final rule.
Per earlier Board direction, PTG has submitted additional questions to the USFW about repairs and replacement and we will share information when we receive it. That said, Goldberg suggested firm answers may not be necessary alluding to the fact that the enforcement efforts of the USFW are targeted towards different areas.
State Laws/Future Activity
New Jersey still continues to have a total ban on intrastate ivory sales but the new federal rule now allows someone in New Jersey to sell to a customer in Pennsylvania.
All other states with ivory laws (Washington, California, and New York) have musical instrument exemptions. Hawaii is expected to implement a law later this summer and it appears Oregon may put a referendum on the ballot. Goldberg said it’s also possible, with new federal rules in place, that we may see more states pass laws that emulate the federal level.
Again, we’re waiting on some answers from the USFW to technician-specific questions and we’ll share those when we receive them. We think it would also be proactive to put together some common Q & A best practices information for membership as we go forward. As this new rule is implemented, it’s going to be very important that we hear about experiences members have.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t express our sincere thanks to the wonderful folks at NAMM who have done a stellar job on behalf of the music industry on this issue, and who have also gone out of their way to include PTG.
Shawn Bruce, PTG Marketing Manager
Phil Bondi, PTG President
Ivory Update - from August 2016 PTG Member E-News
The new federal ivory regulations are in place and can be viewed online
. It appears that the music industry came out about as well as it could have as a de minimis exemption remains in place.
Questions were submitted to the US Fish and Wildlife Service on June 15, 2016 seeking clarification and answers to issues raised by the PTG Board of Directors. Those answers were received on June 29, 2016 in an e-mail from the USFW. View the unedited questions and the USFW responses online
. View Federal Register Rule by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
PTG representatives Phil Bondi and Shawn Bruce attended the Summer NAMM 2016 Issues roundtable discussion. NAMM representatives said it's possible we may see more states pass laws that emulate the federal level. New Jersey continues to have a total ban on all ivory sales. All other states with regulations (Washington, California, and New York) have musical instrument exemptions. Hawaii is expected to implement a law later this summer and it appears Oregon may put a referendum on the ballot in the near future.
As this new rule is implemented, PTG would like to hear about any experiences (good or bad) you have. Please share them with Shawn Bruce (email@example.com
Ivory Update - from June 2016 PTG Member E-News
On June 6, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a final rule. The laws, which go into effect on July 6, mark the end of a long journey that began in February of 2014 and saw the proposed rule published in 2015 draw more than 1.3 million public comments.
Preexisting items manufactured with ivory such as musical instruments used in orchestras, furniture and items such as firearms containing fewer than 200 grams, are exempt from the ban. The USFW rejected efforts to throw out the 200 gram de minimis exemption.
"It is our intent only to allow continued interstate and foreign commercial trade in products that contain a small amount of old ivory; items that we do not believe are contributing to elephant poaching or the illegal ivory trade. That group of products includes certain musical instruments..." the agency said in the document.
In addition, the USFW also laid out some general principles for establishing provenance and meeting de minimis requirements saying, "Forensic testing is not necessarily required and provenance may be determined through a detailed history of the item, including a qualified appraisal or another method, including using information in catalogs, price lists, and other similar materials that document the age by establishing the origin of the item, can be used."
The FWS has indicated they will provide additional guidance to de minimis exemptions on their website before June 6. PTG is still seeking clarification on several issues, including repair of ivory keytops and how the new federal law will incorporate with states such as New Jersey that have passed more restrictive laws. Representatives will be attending an industry roundtable in late June and articles will appear in future issues of the Journal.
February 7, 2015
The Piano Technicians Guild represents approximately 3,500 piano technicians world wide and tens of thousands of piano owners. There is a significant number of piano owners with ivory key tops that will be negatively affected by any legislation requiring proof of provenance. We are hopeful legislation can be crafted to protect these people, some with pianos over 100 years old, while stopping the illegal poaching of elephants and preserving the musical history and integrity of these pianos and their owners.
The Piano Technicians Guild could not be more appalled with the continued illegal poaching of elephants. This is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with at the source. We are in support of any action that stops the illegal flow of poached ivory while preserving the integrity of piano owners who are in possession of legally obtained ivory.
The piano industry has always been cooperative and law abiding regarding ivory content in pianos. Since 1989, any new pianos manufactured domestically or pianos entering US ports have been free of ivory. Over the last 20 years, more production of new pianos has been done over seas in countries like Japan, Korea, and China to name a few. European countries like Germany and Austria have also shipped new pianos to the US, all free of ivory. Our concern with this issue is based in the 300+ year history of the piano and the integrity of the owners of these instruments with legally obtained ivory – long before the present poaching problem existed. We find it intrusive and counter-productive to ask an owner of a 1943 Steinway Grand Piano, for example, to produce proof that the ivory key tops on this instrument are in fact original. Providing proof of provenance is not possible since the manufacturers are not sure where the origin of the ivory is from. Although Steinway and Sons is a manufacturer still in business, there are many piano manufacturers no longer in business, so using their technical or support staff as a source of information does not exist. A domestic ban unnecessarily hurts owners of legally obtained ivory, criminalizes piano owners, and does nothing to stop the illegal poaching.
Proving provenance of ivory does not save another elephant from the illegal activity. The Piano Technicians Guild is hopeful that legislation stopping and criminalizing those who obtain ivory illegally can be produced and enforced while preserving artistic history of the piano, its legally obtained ivory key tops, and preserving the integrity of both the instrument and the owners of these instruments. We are hopeful the effort to control the flow starts with the source, not the legally obtained owners of artistic and musical history.
Phil Bondi’s Summary of PTG’s Involvement in Issues
Related to the Proposed Ivory Ban
November 11, 2014
Since volunteering to be the point person for the ivory issue, there are 2 things that I wanted to make sure got across to the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) people: The PTG is against the illegal poaching of ivory and criminalizing pianos owners of legally obtained ivory is not only wrong but doesn't save one elephant from poaching. I had the privilege of being at a round table discussion in Washington DC in May with a host of interested parties – everyone from NAMM to the NRA. I would have never thought the PTG and the NRA would ever be on the same side of an issue, but we are for this one. There were 26 people around that table for 2 days discussing the issues regarding ivory and coming up with a course of action. It was suggested that perhaps a lobbyist in our behalf would benefit our position, but I felt that was not necessary. Going with the flow that was in place in that room was, I felt, the right course for PTG.
Over the next few months the emails were coming in daily with the FWS requirements changing and how it affects those involved with the issue, to company and individual stories of horror and loss of income dealing with the Federal Government's heavy hand. That part of the issue, the Government's heavy hand, has been my fuel to get our point across. Criminalizing previously innocent people was not saving the elephants and amounting to nothing more than bad publicity for them, in my opinion. Bows being confiscated from the Hungarian National Orchestra because they contained ivory proved to be nothing more than bad publicity. I felt really badly for those artists that were inconvenienced by our federal government’s shortsightedness. People not being able to ship pianos overseas because the ivory keys that were a part of the instrument could not be approved because their provenance was not able to be found, yet they had been a part of that instrument for, in some cases, over 100 years.
Efforts have been made to inform the membership through the e-newsletters about how the requirements were changing and how it was going to affect us. Keeping up with the changes was like trying to hit Jell-O with a dart. Then the push came at the end of July to contact members of Congress and the Senate about a bill that made sense. The Lawful Ivory Protection Act, or HR 5052 – S 2587. It started to gain support from both parties during the summer recess. We were asked to encourage our Congressional Representatives and Senators to support the bill. This is when our voice really started to be heard. There is support of this bill on both sides of the aisle.
While in Denver at the Convention Planning Meeting in September, I received an email from the attorney I have been in contact with since day one of my involvement. The FWS was going to have a public hearing on endangered species. He stressed that this would be a perfect opportunity to have our voice heard first hand by FWS officials. We had 4 days to decide if we were going to send someone to the meeting. I agreed this was a perfect opportunity for our voice to be heard in person. I knew I was not going to being able to attend this meeting because of business concerns. We were fortunate that at that planning meeting in Denver, Ashley Turner was there. She is part of the Institute Task Group. Knowing that she lived not far from DC, she was approached to give a short presentation on our behalf at the meeting. She accepted. I put together the following draft that was looked at by the Executive Committee along with the Board of Directors. The only thing that was changed was the letters PTG were replaced by the actual words Piano Technicians Guild. Ashley did a great job and is to be commended for her volunteerism. Volunteering is paramount to the PTG. She exemplified this with her willingness to represent. Thank you, Ashley.
Phil Bondi, RPT
The information below is compiled from multiple sources. All expressions of opinion and all statements of supposed fact are published on the authority of the author as listed, and are not to be regarded as expressing the view of the Piano Technicians Guild Inc. unless such statements or opinions have been adopted by the Piano Technicians Guild Inc. Last update 2/20/2015.
In July 2012, the President issued an Executive Order committing the U.S. to step up efforts to combat wildlife trafficking. The U.S Fish and Wildlife service has responded: “Given the unparalleled and escalating threats to African elephants, we believe that a nearly complete ban on commercial elephant ivory trade is the best way to ensure that U.S. domestic markets do not contribute to the decline of this species in the wild.”
To do this, the agency has taken a multiple step approach, implementing regulations gradually. The best way to review what’s happened so far and what is planned for the future is to visit the following website:
Summary of Changes/Proposals/Updates (“we” refers to FWS)
Prohibit Commercial Import of Elephant Ivory: We will eliminate broad administrative exceptions to the 1989 African Elephant Conservation Act (AECA) moratorium that have allowed commercial import of antique ivory.
Update as of 5/15/14: We took our first step to implement a nearly complete ban on commercial elephant ivory trade with the issuance of Director’s Order 210 on February 25, 2014. The Director’s Order allows enforcement discretion on the import moratorium for certain specimens containing CITES pre-Convention (removed from the wild prior to February 26, 1976) worked ivory, under specific conditions. Based on consultation with musicians, exhibitors, and others involved in the movement of specimens containing elephant ivory, we revised Director’s Order 210 on May 15, 2014, so that ivory as part of a musical instrument, a traveling exhibition, or as part of a household move or inheritance, that had been bought or sold prior to February 25, 2014—the date that the Director’s Order was issued—could be imported or exported under the exception. Prior to revising Director’s Order 210, these items could not have been bought or sold after February 26, 1976. This provision would have prevented musicians, orchestras, and others from importing an instrument containing elephant ivory, unless it had been purchased more than 28 years ago. This is a common sense revision that will allow musicians to import their instrument containing elephant ivory and will allow for the import of museum specimens and certain other items not intended for sale.
- Clarify the Definition of “Antique”: We intend to incorporate the Endangered Species Act’s exemptions for commercial trade of 100-year-old antiques into regulations that re-affirm the criteria that must be met for an item to qualify as an antique.
Update as of 5/15/14: The first step in this action was completed on February 25, 2014, with the issuance of Director’s Order 210.?On May 15, 2014, we revised Director’s Order 210 to allow the sale of certain 100-year-old items that were either created in the United States or imported prior to September 22, 1982—the date that antique ports were designated. Prior to this decision to allow enforcement discretion, items imported before September 22, 1982, would not be able to be sold. This is a common sense revision to allow for the sale of items that are 100 years old or older but could not have been imported through a designated antique port.
- Strengthen Endangered Species Act Protection for African Elephants: We planned to propose removal of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) African elephant special (4d) rule (50 CFR 17.40(e)) that allows African elephant ivory to be traded in ways that would otherwise be prohibited by the ESA. This action would require publication of a proposed rule with an opportunity for public comment, followed by a final rule.
Update as of 5/15/14: We are re-evaluating this plan, and are now likely to develop a proposed rule to revise, rather than revoke, the special (4d) rule. Our intention is to minimize impacts on trade in African elephant parts and products other than ivory, and on non-commercial movement of musical instruments and certain other CITES pre-Convention specimens, that we do not believe are contributing to the poaching crisis or to illegal trade. This will also allow us to propose retaining important conservation-related provisions of the current special 4 (d) rule. We anticipate publication of a proposed rule during the summer of 2014.
- Reinforce International Controls on Wildlife Trade Domestically: We will finalize a proposed rule that will re-affirm, clarify and improve public understanding of the “use-after-import” provisions in U.S. CITES regulations, so as to reduce sales, including intrastate sales (i.e. sale within a state), of African elephant ivory, and other wildlife that was imported for noncommercial purposes.
Update as of 5/15/14: This action was completed on May 15, 2014, with the publication of a final rule revising U.S. CITES implementing regulations. This action was completed on May 27, 2014, with the publication of a final rule revising U.S. CITES implementing regulations. These revised regulations became effective June 26, 2014.
- Support Limited Sport-hunting of African Elephants: We will propose to limit the number of elephant sport-hunted trophies that an individual can import to two per hunter per year. To do this, we will publish a proposed or interim final rule with an opportunity for public comment to revise the 1989 AECA moratorium and create regulations under the AECA in our general wildlife import/export regulations (50 CFR Part 14).
Update as of 5/15/14: We will publish a proposed rule, with opportunity for public comments by the summer of 2014.
What are the cumulative effects if all of these administrative actions are finalized?
If these administrative actions are finalized, the following activities will be prohibited or restricted as a matter of enforcement discretion:
- Import of African elephant ivory except for certain items and purposes where the ivory item will not be sold, including sport-hunted trophies, ivory for law enforcement and scientific purposes, specified worked ivory items such as musical instruments, items in museums and other exhibitions, and items that are part of a household move or inheritance.
- Commercial export of African elephant ivory except for bona fide antiques.
- Interstate sale (sale across state lines) of African elephant ivory except for bona fide antiques, or that which is accompanied by an ESA permit.
- Intrastate sale (sale within a state), of African elephant ivory except that which was lawfully imported prior to listing in CITES Appendix I (1990 for African elephant) and with no restrictions on its use after import or under a CITES pre-Convention certificate.
If these administrative actions are finalized, the following activities will be allowed or not restricted as a matter of enforcement discretion:
- Import, export, interstate and intrastate commerce of elephant ivory items that are documented to meet the strict criteria of the exceptions listed above.
- Import of up to two African elephant sport-hunted trophies per hunter per year.
- Possession of lawfully imported and acquired elephant ivory items.
It’s also important to note that beyond the actions on the federal level, several states have implemented, or are considering implementing, new regulations governing ivory. That list includes both New York and New Jersey. Visit http://elephantprotection.org/ to see the most recent list of state ivory ban bills.
The Music Community
Both through collaborative and individual efforts (including PTG) the music community has responded to the new and proposed ivory regulations. The methods and approach have varied but most make the following arguments of what they would like to see done.
- Restore opportunities for international travel with legally crafted, legally purchased musical instruments that contain endangered species material.
- Maintain the legal sale of existing, legally crafted musical instruments that contain small amounts of African elephant ivory.
- Support African elephant conservation by focusing U.S. enforcement resources on efforts that genuinely combat illegal trade and trafficking in African elephant ivory, rather than banning travel with and sale of legally crafted and legally purchased musical instruments.
Some of those groups, including NAMM (National Association of Music Instrument Makers) have urged both Congress and the Administration to implement the above. In addition they’ve compiled an information sheet about ivory use in musical instruments.
PTG Submitted questions to the FWS about specific concerns that piano technicians may have. The PTG received the following.
IMPORTANT: Please note that this guidance is current (7/7/14), but we do anticipate additional actions in the coming months that will impact how elephant ivory can be traded (e.g. bought or sold) within the United States. Refer to our Elephant Ivory Trade Q&A page for the latest information.
1. There is no restriction on traveling across state boundaries with personally owned worked ivory, and provided the ivory keys are not sold across state lines or to a resident of another state, transferring the keys and back across state lines for paid repairs is not prohibited.
2. Selling worked ivory across state lines or to a resident of another state is considered interstate commerce and is prohibited under the United States Endangered Species Act (Act) and Director's Order 210. Worked ivory must meet specific criteria in order to be exempt from these prohibitions.
To determine whether the piano keys are exempt from the interstate commerce prohibition, the first step is to evaluate whether your items are made of African or Asian elephant ivory. Such proof can be in the form of a qualified appraisal or other documentation that definitively demonstrates the identification of the species through a detailed provenance of the article.
If your items are made from Asian elephant ivory and you wish to sell them across state lines (interstate commerce), you will need to be able to demonstrate that your ivory meets the definition of an antique--
To qualify as antique, the importer, exporter or seller must show that the item meets all of these criteria:
A It is 100 years or older;
B. It is composed in whole or in part of an ESA-listed species;
C. It has not been repaired or modified with any such species after December 27, 1973; and
D. It is being or was imported through an endangered species “antique port.”
Under Director’s Order 210, as a matter of enforcement discretion, items imported prior to September 22, 1982, and items created in the United States and never imported must comply with elements A, B, and C above, but not element D.
If you can provide proof confirming that this ivory was imported prior to September 22, 1982 (for example, a datable photo of the owner with the item, a dated letter or other document referring to the item) you will not need to meet element D above.
If your items are made from African elephant ivory and you wish to sell them across state lines (interstate commerce), you will be able to sell your ivory if you can demonstrate that your ivory was lawfully imported prior to January 18, 1990 (the date that the African elephant was listed in CITES Appendix I). Again, this proof could be in the form of a datable photo, a dated letter or other document referring to the item.
If your items are made from African or Asian elephant ivory and you wish to sell them within a state (intrastate commerce), you will be able to sell your ivory if you can demonstrate that your ivory was lawfully imported prior to the date that the species was listed in CITES Appendix I (January 18, 1990 for the African elephant; July 1, 1975 for the Asian elephant). Again, this proof could be in the form of a datable photo, a dated letter or other document referring to the item.
You do not need to apply for a permit or contact our office to conduct these activities; however, you should have all documentation ready so that you can demonstrate the legality of the sale, if asked. We would also suggest that you pass along all documentation to the buyer of your elephant ivory items.
Please note that this guidance is current, but we do anticipate additional actions in the coming months that will impact how elephant ivory can be traded (e.g. bought or sold) within the United States. Refer to our Elephant Ivory Trade Q&A page for the latest information.
- Gather documentation that identifies whether the ivory was derived from an African elephant or an Asian elephant. This can be done through a qualified appraisal or detailed provenance of the article.
- Gather documentation, such as a datable photo or dated letter, that demonstrates that the ivory was lawfully imported prior to the species listing in CITES Appendix I (January 18, 1990 for the African elephant; July 1, 1975 for the Asian elephant) OR, if Asian elephant ivory to be sold across state lines, gather documentation that the items qualify as "antique".
- Check the Elephant Ivory Trade Q&A page for any updates made since you received this guidance.
- Check to make sure that you are also in compliance with local and state laws.
- Proceed to sell your elephant ivory in compliance with all applicable laws.
What’s ahead (from the FWS)
Publication of proposed rule, with public comment period, to revise the African elephant special rule [50 CFR 17.40 (e)])
We expect that this action will include a proposal to further restrict commercial export of worked African elephant ivory.
We expect that this action will include a proposal to prohibit interstate commerce in African elephant ivory.
Recent Updates - PTG Member E-News
PTG Member E-News - March 18, 2016
Legislation governing the sale and possession of ivory continues to be introduced at a rapid pace throughout the United States. Since January, the following states have seen action taken to some degree on legislation related to ivory regulation: Vermont, Hawaii, Washington, Rhode Island, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Connecticut, New York, and Indiana.
It's important to note that the proposed legislation varies greatly from state to state. Other states have introduced legislation prior to 2016 that is still pending. Most, but not all, of the proposed laws contain exemptions for musical instruments.
One of the best ways to get information about what's happening in a particular state is to visit www.legiscan.com. Scroll down to the lower left "National Legislative Search" and then select either a particular state or all states. Then enter the word "ivory" in the full text Search Box.
On the Federal Level, the House of Representatives passed HR 2406, the Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act. One of several amendments, proposed from the House floor, permits more than one U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement Officer to be placed in a U.S. diplomatic or consular post in an African country to assist local wildlife rangers in protection of elephants
Ivory advocates called the passage a positive step toward spending more of its resources for saving endangered wild elephants where it will do the most good - on the ground - and with the people and institutions most affected by wildlife poaching. The SHARE Act now goes to the Senate for consideration.
The importance of following activity on the state level and reaching out to legislators to express the impact of the bill on you can't be overstated. Advocates have attributed much of the success in obtaining exemptions on the state level to one-on-one interaction between music industry representatives and legislators. PTG's official statement is available at www.ptg.org and NAMM occasionally updates legislation (and their responses). Outside of the music industry, elephantprotection.org also tracks legislation and provides resources.
PTG Member E-News - February 25, 2016
In January, PTG representatives attended a meeting on ivory issues during the NAMM show. James Goldberg, NAMM's Washington DC based attorney, led the discussion.
At this point, US Fish and Wildlife anticipates publishing the final special rule on African Elephants in the second quarter of 2016. That proposed rule includes a de minimis exemption of 200 grams. USFW chose that weight, ".... because we understand that this is the approximate maximum weight of the ivory veneer on a piano with a full set of ivory keys and that this quantity would also cover most other musical instruments with ivory trim or appointments."
The proposed rule can be reviewed at www.regulations.gov. Goldberg said he was doubtful of the second quarter date and guess it would more likely become law in the third quarter. He also said he doubts many changes will be made to the proposed rule although there have been some discussions about musical instruments that don't fall under the exemption such as pipe organs.
At the state level, Goldberg said the music instrument industry has come out pretty well so far. Four states (New Jersey, New York, Washington and California) have legislation in place; all except New Jersey contain musical instrument exemptions. Goldberg said it appears Hawaii and Vermont will enact bills in 2016; both have musical instrument exemptions though not as "clean" as the music industry would prefer, he said. Massachusetts is currently considering ivory legislation and Ohio is also a strong possibility for legislation in 2016.
Several other states have seen legislation introduced. One of the best resources for checking activity at the state levels is to visit www.legiscan.com. Scroll down to lower left and check all states and enter the keyword ivory. Goldberg, along with the rest of NAMM's legislative team, emphasized the importance of following activity on the state level and reaching out to legislators to express the impact of the bill. Goldberg attributed much of the success in obtaining exemptions on the state level to one-on-one interaction between music industry representatives and legislators.
PTG Member E-News - November 17, 2015
Washington State has become the most recent state to adopt new ivory regulations. Initiative 1401 passed overwhelmingly in early November. The law includes exemptions for musical instruments similar to laws in California and New York.
In New Jersey a Senate bill (3416) that would have made possession of ivory a criminal offense was significantly amended during a Senate hearing. Significant opposition resulted in committee members removing ivory from the list of protected species and changing the criminal punishments provision to civil ones. The previously approved total ban on ivory sale and trade remains in place.
Several other states have seen legislation proposed governing ivory. Massachusetts has hearings underway and Oregon is seeing ivory ban supporters pushing for a voter initiative. NAMM has tracked many of those here (last update October 5).
No final rule governing ivory has been published by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service as of November 17. The proposed rule may still be viewed here.
National Geographic has an interesting article about ivory issues in China where the government has announced a ban after years of promoting the industry.
PTG Member E-News - August 12, 2015
The new special rule governing African Elephant was published on July 29th. The comment period will extend through Sept 28th with all comments being reviewed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This website offers a link to the special rule and also provides instructions on how to comment. It also contains a very useful Q&A.
There are still a lot of questions but it appears that the piano industry came out about as well as it could have, due in part to the efforts of many PTG members. It appears that a 200-gram exemption figure in the proposal came about specifically to cover the approximate weight of ivory piano key veneers.
EXCERPT FROM THE USFW Q&A: The proposed rule provides an exemption from prohibitions on selling or offering for sale in interstate and foreign commerce certain manufactured items that contain a small (de minimis) amount of ivory that meet the following conditions:
- If the item is located in the United States, the ivory must have been imported prior to January 18, 1990 or imported under a CITES pre-Convention certificate with no limitation on its commercial use.
- If the item is located outside of the United States, the ivory must have been removed from the wild prior to February 26, 1976.
- The ivory is a fixed component or components of a larger manufactured item and not the primary source of the value of the item.
- The ivory is not raw.
- The manufactured item is not made wholly or primarily of ivory.
- The total weight of the ivory component or components is less than 200 grams.
- The item must have been manufactured before the effective date of the final rule.
It goes on to say, "We have chosen 200 grams as the weight limit because we understand that this is the approximate maximum weight of the ivory veneer on a piano with a full set of ivory keys and that this quantity would also cover most other musical instruments with ivory trim or appointments."
Also, "While we have given careful consideration to the types of items containing African elephant ivory for which we could allow continued commercialization in interstate and foreign commerce (because we do not believe the trade is contributing to the poaching of elephants and we believe the risk of illegal trade is low) we seek comment from the public on the specific criteria we have proposed to qualify for this de minimis exception."
On the downside, one attorney who has led opposition to the new ivory regulations said "My understanding is the 200-gram figure was specifically to include the approximate weight of piano key veneers. In this sense, you're given half a loaf. You can sell the piano if you have appropriate documentation, but you can't repair or refurbish it with ivory. The final approval of this Federal law is NOT the end of the ivory issues. States may adopt more restrictive laws and ban intrastate sales. It would appear that many states were waiting to see what the federal proposals would be and we can expect respective legislatures to revisit the legislation when they next convene".
PTG will reserve judgement until the federal law becomes final. If and when states enact their own regulations, we would continue to encourage members to seek a similar de minimis exception that presently exists at the federal level.
PTG Member E-News - April 23, 2015
As April moves past the halfway point, the number of states where ivory ban legislation has been introduced stands at 13. The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) has posted a state-by-state breakdown and status of the proposals. In some cases, the list also includes an official statement from NAMM with a list of concerns specific to the musical instrument community.
As of April 16, there has been no publication of a final rule regarding ivory regulations by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. They maintain a Q and A section at www.fws.gov/international/travel-and-trade/ivory-ban-questions-and-answers.html
In addition to the NAMM site listed above, elephantprotection.org/home offers lists of legislation at the state level. Also, you can search for your federal and state elected officials and view a model letter to send them.
PTG has an official statement available to all members that outlines concerns and offers hope that legislation can be crafted to stop the illegal poaching of elephants and also preserve the musical history and integrity of these pianos and their owners. This statement is available to members for their use. PTG encourages members in all states to make themselves aware of proposed legislation and encourages members to contact their state legislators to voice their opinions. Visit www.ptg.org and click on Ivory Update for more info.
PTG Member E-News - March 19, 2015
The list of states currently considering ivory ban legislation continues to grow. As of March 10, ivory ban legislation has now been introduced in at least 10 states. The current status and proposed legislation varies from state to state with some providing exemptions for musical instruments and others implementing a total ban. A list with links to individual state information is available at www.elephantprotection.org. There has also been no movement by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service toward implementing new federal regulations but sources expect new regulation changes will be published for comment in the next six weeks or so. More information is available at www.fws.gov.
As noted in the February E-News, Alaskan Congressman Don Young has introduced H.R. 697 with Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) to roll-back and halt restrictions on lawfully possessed ivory products. No updates had been reported as of March 10.
PTG has an official statement available to all members that outlines concerns and offers hope that legislation can be crafted to stop the illegal poaching of elephants and also preserve the musical history and integrity of these pianos and their owners. This statement is available to members for their use. PTG encourages members in all states to make themselves aware of proposed legislation and encourages members to contact their state legislators to voice their opinions.
PTG Member E-News - February 18, 2015
Alaskan Congressman Don Young has introduced bipartisan legislation with Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) to roll-back and further halt onerous constraints on lawfully possessed ivory products, including musical instruments, firearms, knives, and museum pieces that include ivory parts.
Alaskan Congressman Don Young has introduced bipartisan legislation with Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) to roll-back and further halt onerous constraints on lawfully possessed ivory products, including musical instruments, firearms, knives, and museum pieces that include ivory parts.
The African Elephant Conservation and Legal Ivory Possession Act of 2015, HR 697, would effectively end the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's draconian and unilateral moratorium on the sale and trade of lawfully possessed ivory, while also making significant efforts to assist anti-poaching efforts in countries with elephant populations.
Many states continue to debate proposed ivory legislation. As of February 11, PTG is aware of proposals in Hawaii, Oklahoma, California, Washington, Iowa, Maryland and Connecticut. Many state legislatures are in session which means more bills could be introduced. In Virginia, a proposed bill was rejected at the request of one of the original Senators who sponsored it after an alliance of organizations testified about the issues it would cause. In Washington State, PTG member George Mounce, III, RPT, testified before the committee about their proposed bill and also followed up with a personal meeting with the State Senate Committee Chair. In that meeting, Mounce demonstrated, using key heads and tails, how little ivory is on a piano, and talked about the economic impact and problems of enforcement of the proposed legislation. Mounce reported a favorable response to his testimony and from the committee chair.
PTG has an official statement available to all members that outlines concerns and offers hope that legislation can be crafted to stop the illegal poaching of elephants and also preserve the musical history and integrity of these pianos and their owners. This statement is available to members for their use.
PTG encourages members in all states to make themselves aware of proposed legislation and encourages members to contact their state legislators to voice their opinions. Members can visit elephantprotection.org/home to learn about the specifics of legislation at the state level. Also, you can search for your federal and state elected officials and view a model letter to send to them.
Since July 1, 2014
- In addition, Sen. Lamar Alexander introduced identical legislation (S. 2587) in the Senate. It attracted once co-sponsor, was read twice and referred to committee. No additional action was taken before the new Senate convened in January 2015.
- As of August 12, both New York and New Jersey signed bill prohibiting the sale of ivory within their borders.
The New York law includes exemptions for all musical instruments made before 1975. Some other exemptions are also allowed depending on circumstances. The New Jersey law has no exemptions and prohibits state residents from buying, selling, importing and possessing ivory and rhino horns with the intent to sell. Existing objects owned by New Jersey residents “can be donated to a nonprofit, a museum, or they can allow it to pass through their estate. Dealers must remove all ivory from showrooms/etc.
- On October 17, 2014, Ashley Turner, RPT, read a statement to the Advisory Council for Wildlife Trafficking on behalf of the more than 3,500 members of the Piano Technicians Guild. In part it says, "Proving provenance of ivory does not save another elephant from the illegal activity. The Piano Technicians Guild is hopeful that legislation stopping and criminalizing those who obtain ivory illegally can be produced and enforced while preserving artistic history of the piano, its legally obtained ivory key tops, and preserving the integrity of both the instrument and the owners of these instruments. We are hopeful the effort to control the flow starts with the source, not the legally obtained owners of artistic and musical history."
- PTG Vice President Phil Bondi, RPT, wrote a report of PTG's involvement in issues related to the proposed ivory ban. As the appointed representative for PTG, he says there are two things he wanted to make sure got across to the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) people: The PTG is against the illegal poaching of ivory and criminalizing pianos owners of legally obtained ivory is not only wrong but doesn't save one elephant from poaching.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has rolled back its date for (Publication of proposed rule, with public comment period, to revise the African elephant special rule [50 CFR 17.40 (e)]). Originally schedule for late summer of 2014, the date was pushed back to late 2014 and has not been updated since January 1, 2015.
- Since January 1, 2015 at least eight states have introduced legislation related to banning the commercial trade of ivory, including:
Virginia (since struck down 13-0) in committee at the request of the original sponsor after hearings)
This list is subject to change, so visit http://elephantprotection.org/ to see the most recent list of state ivory ban bills.
On Jan 18, 2015, the Toledo Blade published an article about the ongoing struggle of musicians dealing with regulations related to traveling with instruments. http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2015/01/18/Ivory-rules-raise-alarm-for-musicians-traveling-abroad.html
Federal Ivory Legislation Update - 7/27/2015 - Breaking News to PTG Members
To the PTG Membership:
Over the weekend, President Obama announced sweeping new proposed rules regulating the use of ivory including a ban on the interstate sale of most ivory in the U.S. and new restrictions on when the material can be exported.
The action follows a more than year long process by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The announcement of the special rule governing African Elephants has a website devoted to the special rules and regulations governing it that can be viewed at www.fws.gov/international/pdf/african-elephant-4d-proposed-changes.pdf.
This proposed rule will publish to the Federal Register on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. To read the proposal and provide comments upon publication, go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. In the search box, enter FWS-HQ-IA-2013-0091 (the docket number for this proposed rule). You may submit a comment by clicking on "Comment Now!" The Service will review and consider all comments received by September 28, 2015 before publishing a final rule.
The Piano Technicians Guild is currently reviewing and researching the impact of these proposals including antique and de minimis exemptions contained within the proposal. We'll strive to keep membership informed and encourage all members to stay abreast of proposed laws at the state level as well.
Phil Bondi, RPT
Council Resolution on Ivory
2015 Council of The Piano Technicians Guild resolved to add the following to the Council Book of Resolutions:
- The PTG supports efforts to end international trade in illegal ivory. The PTG supports efforts to update and clarify domestic and international protocols to address this ongoing crisis.
a. The PTG has an interest in preserving legally obtained and installed ivory on pianos.
b. The PTG requests that any new regulations include a protocol whereby RPT’s can issue a statement which can be used to verify that the transport or sale of existing ivory on a specific piano is permitted under any proposed certification process.
- The Executive Board shall select one or more duly authorized representatives of PTG to engage in the public comment period for any proposed ivory regulations. Any statement by PTG which claims to represent official PTG policy regarding proposed ivory regulations must include all resolutions on the subject passed by 2015 Council.
- The Council of the Piano Technicians Guild recommends that the Board create a special (or ad hoc) committee for the purpose of formulating a coherent statement of the organization’s position, with regard to current efforts by Federal and State governments to establish and implement effective measures to curtail distribution of illegally obtained elephant ivory.
In addressing the complexity of this issue, the resulting committee recommendations should reflect the diversity of views to be found among the organization’s membership. This objective would be best served by ensuring that such diversity be adequately represented in the composition of such a committee.
Patrick Draine, RPT, Chair
Michael Meade, RPT
Paul Adams, RPT
- Formulate a coherent statement of the organization’s position, with regard to current efforts by Federal and State governments to establish and implement effective measures to curtail distribution of illegally obtained elephant ivory.
- In addressing the complexity of this issue, the resulting committee recommendations should reflect the diversity of views to be found among organization’s membership.
- Report on progress to Mid-Year Board.