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Maritime Legacies and the Law

Effective Legal Governance of WWI Wrecks

Craig Forrest

The recent centenary of WWI has prompted a shift in the way attention is focused on legacy shipwrecks. This timely book considers the development of the laws that apply to these wrecks and the issues that surround them, and deftly analyses the adequacy of the existing legal framework to fulfil its promise of protecting legacy wrecks for future generations as historical and archaeological resources, memorials and, most importantly, as maritime war graves.
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Chapter 6: Legacy wrecks as historical and archaeological sites

Craig Forrest


A great many legacy wrecks of WWI have historical and archaeological value. This chapter considers the evolution of the laws that recognise and protect these values, especially the UK’s Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. This was largely prompted by increasing unregulated salvage and the rise in sports diving. As access to these wrecks reached into international waters, so the need to address this in international law grew. The chapter considers the legal response to this growth and especially the resulting Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage adopted at UNESCO in 2001.

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