UK Gov’s ivory ban to grant exemptions for some musical instruments

The UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) has revealed that its ivory ban will give exemptions for certain musical instruments.

The news follows lobbying from various organisations in the music and MI industries, including the Musicians’ Union (MU), the Music Industries Association and the Association of British Orchestras.

“Although the MU supports DEFRA’s strong actions to limit elephant poaching, we have been lobbying for an exemption to be made for musical instruments,” said the MU.

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.

Michael Gove first announced his plans to ban ivory sales 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.

“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,” commented Dave Webster, Musicians’ Union Live Performance National Organiser.

“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.”


About Laura Barnes 427 Articles
Founder/Publisher of UK musical instrument industry publication MI Focus.