Still in draft form, the new global standard focuses not only on the sustainability and humane treatment of crocodiles, but also quality assurance, traceability, biosecurity, and the welfare of people working in the trade.

Northern Territory chief veterinary officer Kevin de Witte, who has been in New Orleans helping the ICFA to develop the standard, said it had been driven by customers wanting to know more about the ethics of production. “I guess the reason the industry has seen the need for this is that they produce a premium product, being leather, that goes to a high-end fashion market, which like all markets have questions about the origins of their product,” he said. Dr de Witte went on to say that when the international standard for crocodile farming was formalised, it would “guarantee a more secure future” for the majority of farms, and for Australia’s well-established farms it would be good news. Dr de Witte said the global crocodile trade was made up of 10 countries that farmed five species of crocodile.

According to the NT Crocodile Farmers Association, Australia accounts for 60 per cent of the global trade in saltwater crocodile skins, with about two thirds being grown and exported by the Northern Territory.  The Northern Territory’s crocodile industry has been valued at more than $100 million.