Workers catch a giant salamander which is still alive outside the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan city, Hubei province, Jan 27, 2020. （Photo by Yuan Zheng/chinadaily.com.cn)
China's top legislature said on Monday that it has planned to amend the Law on Wild Animal Protection to intensify the fight against people hunting or indiscriminately consuming wildlife.
This amendment has been added to the legislation agenda of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislative body, this year, according to the committee's Legislative Affairs Commission.
"Public health security risks brought by wildlife trade and consumption have aroused high attention across the world, and it's very likely that the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak this time was transferred to humans from wild animals and then caused human-to-human transmission," said Wang Ruihe, director of the commission's Economic Law Department.
To ensure people's life safety and health and strengthen risk governance at the root, the commission decided to improve laws on wildlife protection and increase supervision on law enforcement to fight the illegal trade of wild animals and to eliminate overhunting and indiscriminate consumption of them, according to him.
He said the current Law on Wild Animal Protection, revised in 2016, has played a role in the protection by clarifying conservation priorities, regulated uses and strict management of the wildlife, but it still has some problems.
"Relevant rules to support the law have not been offered in a timely manner, while specific methods, directions, standards and technical regulations to protect wildlife have also yet to be introduced," he said.
"The supervision and law enforcement, in the meanwhile, are not enough," he said. "We didn't clamp down markets for illegal wildlife trade, or even in many places, the scale of such markets and related industries was large, bringing great potential hazards to public health security."
He noted the aim of making the law at the beginning was for protecting rare and endangered wild animals, "but now it needs to be further promoted to increase the crackdown and punishments for the overhunting and indiscriminate consumption of wildlife."
In addition, another amendment to the Law on Animal Epidemic Prevention will also be accelerated, he added.
China has tightened control over wildlife trade, raiding restaurants, produce markets and online marketplaces for illegal activity since the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak swept across the country, as a move to curb the spread of the virus.