Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

University of Hawaii archaeology team might have violated FSM law

POHNPEI, Palikir (FSM Information Service): September 12, 2000 - The FSM Department of Justice has sent an urgent memorandum to the Secretary of Health, Education, and Social Affairs concerning reported recovery and transportation of artifacts that might be in violation of national or state legislation.

The FSM Justice Department concern came after receiving a paragraph in an article appearing on the Internet indicated that an underwater expedition looking the remains of a whaling ship, possibly the Harvest, were found and copper and metal pieces recovered.

Further search on the Internet has since found an article appearing in the September 7 Honolulu Star Bulletin also citing such findings.

According to the Star Bulletin, "She (Suzanne Finney) said they recovered large sections of keel and some pieces of copper sheathing, which may help them date the wrecks."

However, earlier this month when the University of Hawaii team presented its findings at the College of Micronesia-FSM, Dr. Rufino Mauricio, FSM archaeologist, asked if the team had removed any items.

"I was told, no," said Rufino.

In the memorandum the Department of Justice cites two legal provisions that may be in violation.

The first, 26 FSMC Sec. 401(1) reads, "No person shall willfully transport any historical artifacts in interstate or foreign commerce without the express written permission of the Governor and two-thirds of the legislature of the State in which such artifacts were found.

The second, 26 FSMC Sec. 401(3) reads, "Upon receiving a request for permission to export, deface, disfigure, disturb, or destroy any historic property or artifact within the control and jurisdiction of the National Government of the Federated States of Micronesia, the President shall consult with the [...] State or States affected."

The point of the inquiry is to determine if items were actually taken.

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356