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Clampdown on fossil smuggling

11-25-2010 10:40 BJT

BEIJING, Nov. 25 -- China's first fossil protection law will be implemented on Jan 1, 2011 to curb smuggling, authorities said.

The new law forbids both individuals and organizations from exchanging, transferring, loaning, giving or conveying any protected fossil specimens that appear on the national list to individuals or organizations overseas.

If incidents of this kind are uncovered, the local land and resources bureau will ask the concerned parties to retrieve the specimens as soon as possible. Individuals involved in this type of activity will be fined 20,000 yuan ($3,006) to 100,000 yuan, while organizations will be penalized 100,000 yuan to 500,000 yuan.

"The enforcement of the law will effectively protect China's fossil specimens and crack down on fossil digging and smuggling, which are illegal," Wang Shouzhi, director of the department of policy and regulation in the Ministry of Land and Resources, said at a press conference in Beijing where the law was announced on Wednesday.

The country's top legislature passed the long-awaited fossil protection law on Aug 25 after it was reviewed several times over the past four years.

In the past three years, China has reclaimed more than 5,000 fossil specimens from foreign countries including Australia, the United States, Canada and Italy. Most of the recovered items appear on a national list of protected fossils, said Guan Fengjun, director of the ministry's department of geological environment.

Customs officers from Shenzhen, Shanghai, Tianjin and Beijing have confiscated more than 60 fossil specimens that were being illegally transported abroad, he said.

According to the law, items on the list can only be transported overseas for the purposes of scientific research or scientific and cultural exchanges after authorization has been obtained from the Ministry of Land and Resources.

Protected fossils that are taken abroad may not remain out of the country for more than six months, according to the law. If special circumstances arise and an extension is sought, the application must be filed with the ministry within 60 days of arrival.

A national commission has been set up to administer the entry and exit of fossils from China, as well as to evaluate applications for excavating fossils, Wang Shouzhi said.

Wang Zhenjiang, director of the department of agriculture, resources and environment protection under the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, said at the press conference the law will also resolve problems such as a shortage of funds for fossil protection and the need for a systematic protection plan.

Editor:Jin Lin |Source: China Daily

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