The Law & Wrecks

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The Law & Wrecks

PART ICanada

FederalCanada Shipping Act (2001) Parks Canada Standards for the Conservation of Archaeological Sites

Canada Shipping Act (2001)Definition of a shipwreckJetsam, flotsam, lagan and derelict and any other thing that was part of, or was on a vessel wrecked, stranded or in distress; and Aircraft wrecked in waters and anything that was part of or was on aircraft wrecked, stranded or in distress in waters.

Under the new Act any geographical area within Canada can be exempt. Recognizes areas within Canadas national parks as being under the jurisdiction of Parks Canada. Still allows for the possible designation of a Receiver of Wreck. Anyone who commits an offence under Part 7 of the Act is liable to be fined up to $100,000, can receive a jail term of up to one year or both.

Parks CanadaThe new standards for the conservation of historic places in Canada applies to sites on both land & underwater. It replaces the former Archaeological Legislation on Lands in Canada. There are 15 general standards for all projects within national parks. Most apply to the restoration of historic buildings and places. The two general standards which have direct implications for underwater sites (found within National Parks or on Crown land) are;

General Standard 3Conserve heritage value by adopting an approach calling for minimal intervention.

General Standard 6Protect and, if necessary, stabilize a historic place until any subsequent intervention is undertaken. Protect and preserve archaeological resources in place. Where there is potential for disturbance of archaeological resources, take mitigation measures to limit damage and loss of information.

Lake Minnewanka, Banff National Park

The new standards were introduced in 2003 along with financial incentives for the private sector to preserve historic properties. In addition, Canadas new Historic Places Initiative includes the Canadian Register of Historic Places, which lists formally recognized historic places across the country. The new standards and guidelines is described as Canadas first comprehensive, nation-wide benchmark of conservative principles and practices.

PART II (a) The ProvincesAll provinces and territories within Canada have legislation pertaining to the management of archaeological resources on lands found within their borders. However, legislation aimed at protecting underwater sites is not uniform across the country and some jurisdictions, such as the Province of Saskatchewan and the Yukon Territory, have none at all. Most jurisdictions are facing serious challenges in trying to identify and manage their marine heritage resources. Lets look at those provinces which do have legislation pertaining to shipwrecks:

British ColumbiaHeritage Conservation ActAmended several times since it was introduced in 1977. Administered by the Department of Small Business, Tourism and Culture: Archaeology Branch All shipwrecks over two years old are the property of the Province. The Archaeology Branch has a unique relationship with the Underwater Archaeology Society of B.C. The UASBC reviews all foreshore applications for the potential impact on submerged cultural resources within the province. Permits are required for archaeological research involving direct contact with sites. Applicants need not have a degree, but must have demonstrated ability in underwater archaeology.

The Bonnington, Kootenay Lake, B.C.

Newfoundland & LabradorHistoric Resources ActIntroduced in 1985. Administered by the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation: Cultural Affairs Branch: Historic Resources Division All shipwrecks and associated artifacts are owned by the Province. A permit is required to conduct archaeological investigations for the purposes of discovering archaeological objects. No qualifications are specified as to who can apply, and be approved, for a permit.

Wrecks of Bell Island, Nfld.

Prince Edward IslandArchaeological Sites Protection ActFirst introduced in 1987, but has been amended several times. Administered by the PEI Museum & Heritage Foundation. PEIs Dept. of Education designates an archaeological site. All shipwrecks and associated artifacts are the property of the Province. A permit is required to conduct archaeological research. Permits are reviewed by a volunteer board, which makes recommendations to the Minister of Education. No qualifications are specified as to who can apply, and be approved, for a permit.

New BrunswickHistoric Sites Protection ActFirst introduced in 1954, but has been amended several times. Administered by the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Culture: Heritage Branch All shipwrecks and associated artifacts are the property of the Province. A field license is required per separate marine archaeological project. A license holder must hold an advanced degree in Archaeology (or equivalent) as well as have four months of field experience of which at least two months must have been in a supervisory position.

QuebecCultural Property ActFirst introduced in 1973, but has been amended several times. Administered by the Minister of Culture and Communications No specific protection is afforded explicitly to shipwrecks, but the Minister may recognize any cultural property whose conservation is in the public interest. Only one shipwreck, the Empress of Ireland, has so far been recognized. An archaeological research permit is required per project. The permit holder must have a Masters degree in Archaeology and a minimum of 20 weeks of field experience.

The Empress of Ireland

OntarioOntario Heritage ActRevised in 1990. Administered by the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture, & Recreation: Archaeology & Heritage Planning The Act doesnt specifically identify shipwrecks as being protected, but three have been directly by the Minister, the Hamilton and the Scourge in Lake Ontario and the Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior. Despite having no explicit shipwreck law, an archaeological underwater license is required by the Province to conduct even a general survey of a site. Applicants must be deemed competent to conduct research.

The Hamilton

Nova ScotiaSpecial Places Protection ActIntroduced in 1980, replacing the Historical Objects Protection Act. Administered by the Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage: Special Places Program, Heritage Division Potential conflicts exist with Nova Scotias Treasure Trove Act, which was introduced in 1954 in relation to Oak Island. Treasure Trove License holders are allowed to keep 90% of any treasure they find. Any non-financially significant artifacts remains the property of the Province. A heritage research permit is required for exploration (Category A) and excavation (Category B). The later can only be applied for by an applicant who has at least a B.A. in Archaeology, and experience, and is deemed competent to conduct the proposed research.

Auguste wreck site

PART II (b) State of FloridaThe Historical Resources ActThe Bureau of Archaeological Research manages Floridas historical shipwreck sites. It contracts exploration and excavations to private companies or individuals. But, unlike the Province of Nova Scotia, the State of Florida is much more involved in supervising contractors and their work. Funding is also available to contractors for projects through Floridas Historic Preservation Trust Fund.

In 1985 Key West salvor Mel Fisher found the mother lode of financially significant artifacts, treasure from the 1622 wreck of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha. Forty-seven tons of gold and silver bars and coins, jewelry, emeralds and other artifacts were recovered estimated between $200 and $400 million. Fisher had to fight to keep the majority of his haul though, fighting the State of Florida for ownership all the way to the US Supreme

In 1992 the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared the Florida Keys a protected sanctuary. This froze almost all salvaging efforts in the area. However, Fishers Supreme Court victory grandfathered his right to recover from the Atocha site. Today, MEL FISHERS TREASURES is a private company made up of investors who each pay $10,000 per year to spend a week working the wreck site. Each investor gets to keep the first piece of silver or gold they find (within limits) and shares in the division of all the treasure found that year. The State of Florida receives 20% of everything that is recovered. The Mel Fisher Treasure Museum is, today, a not-for-profit organization.

The Gulf of MexicoOil exploration and development & marine archaeology

The U.S. Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service (MMS), is responsible for ensuring that all activities it permits takes into consideration the potential effects these may have on archaeological resources. MMS manages natural resources, such as oil and gas, through a combination of efforts that includes; requiring oil companies to conduct remote sensing surveys and archaeological assessments in lease blocks. MMS also funds surveys to identify known and expected locations of marine archaeological sites.

To date, 35 historic shipwrecks have been identified in the Gulf - in water depths greater than 1,000 feet. Of these, 18 were located mostly through the results of Right-of-Way hazards pipeline surveys. The German u-boat U-166 was first detected in 1986, and subsequently identified in 2003, by a survey company working for British Petroleum (BP) and Shell International to map the Mississippi Canyon Area. A grant provided by the U.S. Government allowed for the systematic exploration of the wreck using advanced undersea technology. The project was coordinated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Associations Office of Ocean Exploration.