The orchestra gave an all-Dvorak concert in Avery Fischer Hall on Sunday, using borrowed bows. The WQXR Blog reported that they will have to pay fines of $500 per bow in order to retrieve them at JFK Airport, where they have been held in cargo cases.
This comes after quite a lot of work has gone into mitigating the effects of a Feb. 25, 2014 immediate ban by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on traveling with items that contain any African ivory. In May, the ban was amended to allow for traveling with stringed instruments that contain a small amount of ivory, but only under certain conditions.
According to Raymond M. Hair, Jr., International President American Federation of Musician of the United States and Canada, in a letter to AFM members: "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service still requires the following requirements be met before you can safely travel in and out of the U.S. with a musical instrument containing African elephant ivory. It now requires that:
1. The ivory contained in the instrument was legally acquired prior to February 26, 1976;
2. The instrument must not have subsequently been transferred from one person to another person for financial gain or profit since February 25, 2014;
3. The person or group qualifies for a CITES musical instrument certificate;
4. The musical instrument containing African elephant ivory must be accompanied by a valid CITES musical instrument certificate or an equivalent CITES document."
The problem that remains is obtaining that CITES ("Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species") document, which requires applying for said document and producing ownership documents. Even the AFM was having a hard time figuring out how to guide members on this: "Due to lack of guidance from USFWS, there is still confusion over where to go, either online or in person, to apply for and obtain the correct permit. Since musicians have been singled out, we believe there should be a one-stop online center for information specifically regarding musical instruments. These issues should have been addressed along with the amended Order as well. They too must be resolved," Hair said.
What To Do
Here is the best link that I could find about how to obtain a CITES document for traveling with an instrument that contains Brazilian rosewood, elephant ivory, tortoiseshell, or another protected species: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service International Affairs: Traveling Across International Borders with Your Musical Instrument. Getting such a permit can take up to 60 days, according to the USFWS, which also says that "we are in the process of developing a new application form for the musical instrument passport program." In the meantime, it's pretty confusing.
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