Vergulde Draeck (1656) Beardman jugs and coins, Western Australia.
Source: Western Australian Museum
FAQs about the review
The Historic Shipwreck Act protects Australia's historic shipwrecks and associated relics from illegal damage, disturbance, removal or disposal. The Department maintains a database of Australia's shipwrecks and administers the Act in conjunction with the States and Northern Territory.
The Historic Shipwrecks Act has been highly successful in protecting known and unknown shipwrecks in Australian waters. Many great shipwrecks around Australia are intact and can still be dived on and enjoyed by Australians and tourists because Australia protected the sites and their associated relics. However the Act is over 30 years old and no longer reflects current best practice heritage management.
The review is primarily concerned with the operation of the Act and the extent to which the intent of the Act is being achieved. The review will also look at how human remains of those lost in shipwrecks are treated and whether the Act should be extended to cover other underwater archaeological sites and relics. The review will also look at other legislative mechanisms that could enable Australia to ratify the UNESCO 2001 Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.
There will be a period of six weeks for public submissions.
The terms of reference for the review are provided in the discussion paper.
As the terms of reference indicate, stakeholders, industry and the public will be consulted across the course of the review. The first step in this process is the request for written submissions. There will be a period of six weeks for public submissions which close on 17 July 2009.
Unless a submission is confidential the submissions will be posted on the Departmental web site (www.environment.gov.au/heritage/shipwrecks/review) so that everyone can see the views expressed by Australians on the Historic Shipwrecks Act and ways to assist in strengthening it.
FAQs about the ratification of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage
The 2001 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage came into force on 2 January 2009.
The Convention aims to ensure more effective safeguarding of submerged shipwrecks, archaeological sites and artefacts.
The international treaty represents the international community's response to the increased looting and destruction of underwater cultural heritage, which is becoming ever more accessible to treasure hunters.
Australia has led the world in managing its historic shipwrecks. The UNESCO Convention will enable us to assist other countries in protection of their underwater cultural heritage. Australia also has shipwrecks lying in international waters and other countries waters. The Convention will help ensure that underwater heritage all around the world is protected and managed.
No, the Convention actively encourages divers to visit shipwrecks. The Convention aims to ensure that the shipwrecks remain intact for future generations to enjoy the wonders of diving these wonderful sites. Interpretation of these underwater archaeological sites is also encouraged.
- Australian National Maritime Museum
- Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology
- Devonport Maritime Museum
- Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria
- Maritime Archaeological Association of Queensland
- Maritime Archaeological Association of WA
- Norfolk Island Museum
- Southern Ocean Exploration
- The Sydney Project
Links to another web site
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