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Paleoworld-101

Australian Fossil Laws- State by State

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Paleoworld-101

I thought it would be helpful for amateur paleo's across Australia if we could compile a list of what the laws regarding fossil collection and exporting/importing is like for all the different states (and territories) in Australia. Clear information online about this topic is hard to find and after 10 years of collecting i'm still not 100% sure about what i can and can't do in different parts of the country.

What i do know:

* There are no federal (Australia-wide) laws that specifically talk about the collection of fossils, so the regulations for what is and isn't allowed on different lands is left to be determined by the state governments, which means that different states have different approaches to fossil collecting and some are more lenient than others. This makes it important to know exactly what the laws are like in the different states if, like me, you enjoy going on long and far-ranging fossil hunting trips to different places around the country.

* When it comes to exporting Australian fossils: this must be done in accordance with the latest revision of the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act of 1986. This act requires anyone looking at exporting Australian fossils out of the country (either permanently or temporarily) to first have the specimens assessed by an expert to determine whether or not they are scientifically important or already well represented in scientific collections. The examiner also decides whether an export permit is required. If the specimen is common and not scientifically significant, a permit usually isn't required and a letter of permission is sent to you (handy for customs) that allows you to go ahead and export the fossil. If a permit is required, you then need to apply for one and another examination of the specimen takes place to determine if your request is approved or rejected. More useful information on exporting Australian fossils is found here: http://arts.gov.au/movable/export/fossils-and-meteorites

* For collecting in NSW: This page by the Australian Museum supplies useful information- http://australianmuseum.net.au/collecting-fossils-in-new-south-wales. To summarise, fossil collecting in NSW is determined by whoever owns the land that the fossils are found on. Obviously no fossil hunting is allowed in national parks, state parks, nature reserves or other protected natural areas. On private property, collection of fossils is OK if permission of the landowner has been obtained. But see below. On crown lands, collecting fossils is generally ok and the finder is entitled to keep whatever is found. A key thing to note from this page is that in NSW, fossils that are legally collected belong to the collector and cannot be confiscated. One thing though that this museum page fails to address is the distinction between collecting invertebrate as opposed to vertebrate fossils. My understanding is that collecting any vertebrate fossils in NSW on any land is illegal (even with landowner permission) but i have been unable to find an official government document that says this. As a vertebrate enthusiast myself this is quite off-putting.

I don't know that much about the fossil collecting laws in other Australian states and territories, but a few general principles still apply: no collecting in protected nature parks or reserves, permission for collecting on private property must always be obtained, no large scale excavations can be undertaken and damaging bedrock in crown or public lands is in almost all cases frowned upon (collection of loose material is usually more lenient everywhere).

To other collectors across Australia, i would appreciate your input on what the fossil collecting laws are like in your state or territory, particularly regarding collection of fossils on public and crown lands as this is where a lot of the gray area lies. Laws about the collection of vertebrate fossils specifically is also appreciated, as this is another area where things get complicated due to the bias people have towards vertebrates being more important or valuable than invertebrate or plant material (which seems a bit silly to me as any fossil, whether it be a dinosaur bone or graptolite, has the potential to be scientifically significant and should both be regulated all the same).

So we still need info for QLD, VIC, WA, SA, TAS, NT and the ACT (and confirmation about vertebrate collecting in NSW). Thanks in advance to any contributors!

Edited by Paleoworld-101

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Ash

Pretty sure most states require a fossickers permit.

Just a google for QLD:

Collecting fossils

Collecting fossils is an interesting and worthwhile pastime which is accessible to most people. Fossils can provide an important scientific insight into the ancient environments which once existed on earth. There is a special thrill in finding a specimen that has been buried or encased in rock for many tens of millions of years.

The first step to fossil collecting is identifying where to collect. Geological maps often have fossil sites marked on them. Some shires in Queensland have special sites set aside for fossil collectors. The first thing you will need is a Fossicking Licence. Carefully read the conditions of such a licence, as it does not give you automatic permission to enter lands. The second thing you need to obtain is written permission from the landowner to search for and collect fossils. Private land and large properties do not routinely allow collectors.

The equipment you need is basic: A geological hammer, safety glasses, a marker pen, map of the area, notebook and pencil, as well as your water, sunscreen, first aid kit, boots and hat. The newspaper is to wrap the fossils, the marker pen is to label them in the field and the notebook is to make detailed notes about where you found the fossils.

Whilst in the field observe all the courtesies of the land. Leave gates as you found them, do not enter any land without permission and do not collect more than is necessary.

When you have collected fossils and brought them home, it is time to carefully identify them and label. There are many books on fossil identification, but most are written for an overseas audience. It may show a fossil similar to yours, but not exactly the same. Small numbers of fossils can be brought to the Queensland Museum for identification.

http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Find+out+about/Behind+the+Scenes/Collecting+fossils#.VsVoF_l96Uk

Edited by Ash

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Foozil

Well, this is really helpful... Thanks a bunch, you guys!!!!

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Paleoworld-101

Pretty sure most states require a fossickers permit.

Just a google for QLD:

Collecting fossils

Collecting fossils is an interesting and worthwhile pastime which is accessible to most people. Fossils can provide an important scientific insight into the ancient environments which once existed on earth. There is a special thrill in finding a specimen that has been buried or encased in rock for many tens of millions of years.

The first step to fossil collecting is identifying where to collect. Geological maps often have fossil sites marked on them. Some shires in Queensland have special sites set aside for fossil collectors. The first thing you will need is a Fossicking Licence. Carefully read the conditions of such a licence, as it does not give you automatic permission to enter lands. The second thing you need to obtain is written permission from the landowner to search for and collect fossils. Private land and large properties do not routinely allow collectors.

The equipment you need is basic: A geological hammer, safety glasses, a marker pen, map of the area, notebook and pencil, as well as your water, sunscreen, first aid kit, boots and hat. The newspaper is to wrap the fossils, the marker pen is to label them in the field and the notebook is to make detailed notes about where you found the fossils.

Whilst in the field observe all the courtesies of the land. Leave gates as you found them, do not enter any land without permission and do not collect more than is necessary.

When you have collected fossils and brought them home, it is time to carefully identify them and label. There are many books on fossil identification, but most are written for an overseas audience. It may show a fossil similar to yours, but not exactly the same. Small numbers of fossils can be brought to the Queensland Museum for identification.

http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Find+out+about/Behind+the+Scenes/Collecting+fossils#.VsVoF_l96Uk

So i guess in QLD a fossicking licence is essential, yet here in NSW no such licence is required. Interesting.

The page is still a bit vague though about some crucial details: again there is no distinction between vertebrates/invertebrates, and it doesn't really mention the legality of collecting on government owned or public lands. Also that 'fossicking licence' link is broken lol. Very helpful!

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ElToro

Here in WA, no such license is needed. I've studied the '86 act for export and basically if I want to export anything from the state I need to consult the experts at WAM and probably a letter from the minister.

Also, be aware that MANY Aussie fossil sites have mining leases slapped on them and collecting is illegal except for the lease holders. All sites on National Park land are off limits and if the site is on private land you need permission. Its truly a minefield...

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Canadawest

Interesting info above.

An aside. Americans often ask about collecting laws, regulations, etc. when then come to Canada.

Crown land (public land) in Australia and Canada for the most part is under the jurisdiction of the State or Province. There is not one law made by a Federal government but laws change with jurisdiction within the country. In contrast, in the USA, the Federal government has jurisdiction over much of the public land and makes one law about collecting on public lands.

Also, in Canada, like Australia, it can be 'vague'. Some provinces laws , if any, can be vague or ill defined. Things can get clouded with mining regulations, claims, native artifacts, etc.

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FossilDudeJake
On 22/02/2016 at 7:10 PM, ElToro said:

Here in WA, no such license is needed. I've studied the '86 act for export and basically if I want to export anything from the state I need to consult the experts at WAM and probably a letter from the minister.

Also, be aware that MANY Aussie fossil sites have mining leases slapped on them and collecting is illegal except for the lease holders. All sites on National Park land are off limits and if the site is on private land you need permission. Its truly a minefield...

In WA you need a License, as stated on the Department of Mining and whatchamacallit website.

 

Any hunters/shooters on here? Its basically the same for us, in the way your only real option is to collect/shoot on private property. 

 

No crown land, no state forest... So while we want to contribute to some real science, big government once again just holds us back.

 

It happens more often than not these days. How often does the government let anyone do anything on "their" land for free? Haha and if they did, and you found anything of note, what's the odds they'd claim credit themselves and oh the government is so nice for letting people dig they are so amazing this is their success! Blah blah blah.

 

Screenshot_20171231-030241.png

Edited by FossilDudeJake
Add photo, and extra content

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fossisle

Great info, thanks to all who contributed. Now to just get to Australia!!

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Echinoid
On 2/18/2016 at 3:24 PM, Paleoworld-101 said:

So we still need info for QLD, VIC, WA, SA, TAS, NT and the ACT

As far as I know, fossil collecting requires no permit is Victoria, except palaeontologists are given them to work in protected areas of land. There is no distinction between verts and inverts/plants, unless there are some site specific rules that I am not aware of.

 

Museums Victoria's old website encouraged anyone interested in fossils to join the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria, however, the page does not exist any more (the museum basically scrapped their Discovery Centre website). 

 

If anyone is interested in the FNCV, visit their webiste:

http://www.fncv.org.au/

There isn't a palaeontology group, however there is a geology group if anyone is interested.

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Echinoid

Oh and if you want to collect on Crown land, maybe get a miner's right?

Not sure though, but I am definitely going to do some more research about it.

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Mike from North Queensland

A bit of information about fossicking for fossils in Queensland.

A fossicking licence can be obtained from the Dept of Mines and Energy - this will cover you for collecting invertebrate fossils only.

This is covered under the "Fossicking Act 1994" latest update I could find is 1st July 2016

Collecting of vertebrate fossils is covered under the "Forestry Act 1959" and vertebrate fossils come under the definition of "Product"

Latest update I found is 1st December 2014

This comes under Dept of Forestry but the Act only talks about State Forests and Timber Reserves so unsure if there is actually a licence to collect on any other area in Queensland as such.

This is most likely because fossil wood is the most common fossil found.

I have been told "Product" and "Relic" were included in the Forestry Act as the person writing the Act collected Bark Burials so covered himself in the act.

 

Below is an excerpt from the "Forestry Act 1959" 

 

46A Sale of fossils and quarry materials to fossicker
(1) This section applies to a person fossicking under a licence
under the Fossicking Act 1994 on a State forest, timber
reserve or forest entitlement area (forest land) where
fossicking is permitted under the Act.
(2) If the person collects not more than 1m3 of fossils or quarry
materials in a year, the State is taken to have sold the fossils or
quarry materials to the person at no cost.
(3) No royalty is payable for fossils or quarry materials
mentioned in subsection (2).

 

Mike

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JesseKoz

Northern Territory Fossicking Laws
Link: https://fossicking.nt.gov.au/useful-information/useful-resources

 

Quote

 

(1) No permit is needed to fossick in the Northern Territory. However you may need to notify some landowners / occupiers of your intention to fossick on their land.

(6) You are not allowed to remove:

  • fossils of vertebrate animals - these are animals having a spinal column or notochord including mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians.
  • fossil specimens referred to as "type specimens" are of scientific importance and are protected.

(7) Where can I fossick?

You can fossick on any land providing the correct notifications and consents are gained. There are no restrictions to fossicking on the following land and a person may fossick without giving notice of their intention or obtaining consent, to do so:

  • vacant Crown land
  • a declared fossicking area
  • the application area of an exploration licence or extractive mineral exploration licence
  • the granted area of an extractive mineral exploration licence.

 

 

I am unable to find any information regarding the laws about exporting any finds outside of the NT. Also check section 11 and 13 in the link above if you are looking at requesting access to pastoral, Aboriginal or private land, minimum 7 or 14 days notice.

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