The European market remains the largest consumer of frogs’ legs from wild species
The loss of biodiversity due to overexploitation is well known, but a review and regulation of species used in the frogs’ legs trade has yet to be accomplished. This problem relates to supply (the capture and trade of wild populations) and demand (the main consumer being the EU). The EU’s responsibility should not be ignored, since unsustainable imports of certain species drives population decline and increases risk of extinction. For most organisms, including frog species in the frogs’ legs trade, commercial international trade remains unregulated, includes species in extinction threat categories on the IUCN Red List, and is not economically sustainable. With a tradition of frogs’ legs consumption anchored in western EU countries, demand for many species from the principal supplying countries (Indonesia, Vietnam, Turkey, Albania) has resulted in the overexploitation of the regional populations of many species. Unfortunately, legal trade takes place in the midst of numerous uncertainties, including unresolved taxonomic status for many frogs, no database or regulation of trade-relevant species, unknown population status, and no health standards for the animals involved in the trade. In addition, regional overharvest may increase the use of pesticides, there is uncertain but likely spread of disease along the trade chain, and certification schemes for frog farming operations are both not standardised and can lead to exotic invasive species escaping into naïve ecosystems. Mechanisms to help make the international trade in frogs’ legs sustainable are essential, and require international agreement and targeted efforts, ideally financed by the trade sector itself.