Michael Gove MP became environment minister in June 2017.

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Environment secretary Michael Gove has announced the 12-week consultation. He said: “Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol – so we want to ban its sale. These plans will put the UK front and centre of global efforts to end the insidious trade in ivory.”

The consultation proposes four categories of exemptions to a total ban on the trade in ivory:

  • musical instruments;
  • items containing only a small proportion of ivory, a de minimis exemption;
  • items of significant artistic, cultural and historic value;
  • and sales to and between museums.

The Government said it will work with “conservationists, the arts and antiques sectors and other interested parties through the consultation period on exactly how these exemptions can be defined, implemented and enforced so as to ensure there is no room for loopholes which continue to fuel the poaching of elephants”.

Gove, speaking on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme he said: “We want to get as close as possible to a total ban. We start from the position that the current legal trade helps facilitate the illegal trade in ivory.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) first announced plans for the consultation last year.

The questionnaire is hosted on the government website and submissions can be made by the general public.

Once submissions have been made, the government will publish a summary of responses and is expected to introduce legislation changes.

CITES - the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – dates from 1975 and currently allows for trade in antique ivory that pre-dates March 1947.

ATG’s guide to the UK Ivory Ban