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Ivory Ban Will Grant Exemptions for Musical Instruments

Following lobbying from the music industry, including the Musicians' Union (MU), The UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) ivory ban will give some exemptions for musical instruments.

Published: 18 April 2018 | 12:00 AM Updated: 09 June 2021 | 11:11 AM

Following lobbying from the music industry, including the Musicians' Union (MU), The UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) ivory ban will give some exemptions for musical instruments.

Although the Musicians’ Union (MU) supports DEFRA's strong actions to limit elephant poaching, we have been lobbying for an exemption to be made for musical instruments.

Proposed exemptions

The Government’s ivory ban, which is yet to be signed into law, contains four exemptions:

  • Musical instruments manufactured before 1975 and comprised of less than 20% ivory
  • Items comprised less than 10% ivory (by volume) and made before 1947
  • Rare or important items, at least 100 years old, will be assessed by specialist institutions before exemption permits are issued
  • Commercial activity between accredited museums.

This applies to the sale or trade of items – non-commercial performance activities will not be affected. The current guidelines on non-commercial cross border activity under CITES regulations continue to apply.

Thanks to members who gave evidence

Dave Webster, Musicians’ Union Live Performance National Organiser says:

“We are pleased that the Government have listened to the arguments put forward by the Musicians’ Union, the Music Industries Association and the Association of British Orchestras, and built in protections for musicians and their instruments.

Ultimately we would have preferred it if the ban had exempted instruments manufactured before 1989, however our research showed that the majority of instruments will be exempt from the ban.

Our thanks to those members who came forward and provided evidence to help our arguments.”

Four months of consultation

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, first announced his plans to ban ivory sales back in October 2017. The confirmed proposal has been reached after four months and 127,607 consultation responses.

The ban will come into effect once legislation can be passed.

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