Deposit of type material

Thu Aug 10 11:26:55 CDT 1995

  One of the first things about laws is that they must be enforceable.

  The rule that Jorge Soberon cites is more or less the same
as that of the Manila Declaration, but the actual result is that
it scares off not the miscreants, who will easily circumvent it,
but especially the really serious scientists. With all the barriers
now being set up to make even simple field trips, let alone real
expeditions, I have heard from several colleagues that they have
just given up trying, or moved their interests to countries not (yet)
so well-'protected'. The gut-feeling is that "If I have risked life and
limb to get these things from the jungle/swamps/reefs/etc. (cross what's
applicable), and spend a lot of time and money to get there in the
first place, I'll be b****y crazy to hand over the best parts of the
results (types/unicates/other curiosities). In my institute they
at least are well-cared for, while over there they will rot/moulder/
become insect feed/not studied. Moreover, the situation being as it
is, everybody will have to come here anyway if a serious revision/
account/checklist is to be made. And so on".
  I want to stress that I have always made it a point to send a
*GOOD* set to the hosting country, so part of my collections are
now present in at least Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia,
Sri Lanka, Afghanistan (now surely lost! Boy, am I glad that a
good set is still here!), Ghana, and Ireland.
   I am happy to see that at least in Mexico scientists are now
apparently asked to attend a policy-making committee. Perhaps
something workable will come off it, probably not, as the Committee
after two hours apparently was unable to come up with something

  An example why such rules will not always work is this:

  I suppose many of us make general collections, most material
actually not being within one's expertise. Now, I live in A, in
country X, and have collected in and signed such an agreement
with country Y. The first set after pre-identification and
labeling us returned to Y and duplicates have been sent/exchanged
with specialist B in country Z. Now B describes a new species on it
(hopefully named after me, of course). How am I to persuade
B to hand over the holotype to country Y? B's institute
may not even send types out on loan! You just have to cross
your fingers that the officials in Y won't discover this, but if
they do, under my agreement I (and B too!) can now no longer go to
Y without getting into *BIG* trouble!
  Another not so funny result of such laws is, I am told, that in
a certain country a simple tourist now can be fined and expelled if he/she
collects some shells on the beach and tries to 'smuggle' them back
home as a souvenir. Opens up an interesting perspective of blackmail
from the local cops, doesn't it?

JeF Veldkamp

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