Legally in situ: legislative allowance for the practical application of in situ preservation pertaining to marine archaeological materials

Dublin Core


Legally in situ: legislative allowance for the practical application of in situ preservation pertaining to marine archaeological materials


Session 11
Diversity in approaches to maritime archaeology, underwater cultural heritage and related areas


The protection of underwater cultural heritage (UCH) often falls prey to interpretation of, or exclusion from, the law. With the ratification of the 2001 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001 Convention) encouraging the use of in situ preservation as the preferred option for managing these submerged sites, there is a need for a more refined guideline as to what constitutes in situ preservation within the 2001 Convention. Cultural heritage managers utilise a number of proactive and reactive in situ preservation methods with the intent to establish and maintain a stable environment for submerged cultural material, which can only be employed if the State Party has supporting legislation. Within the Asia Pacific region, the degree of State Party laws pertaining to the protection of UCH ranges from being in compliance with the rules and principles outlined by the 2001 Convention to contradicting the fundamentals within the document outright. Furthermore, terminology found within State Party laws varies from terminology found within the 2001 Convention, which further differs from terminology used by practitioners. With this in mind, it is necessary to try and bridge the gap between written definitions found in international texts and laws with the practitioners’ application of in situ preservation in order to strengthen the relationship between language and practice for the purposes of more efficiently supporting the management of underwater sites. This paper will focus on terminology within the Asia Pacific region pertaining to UCH management by examining the differences between legal boundaries and best management strategies. This paper will specifically look at terminology within regional domestic laws, discuss Rule 1 of the Annex, and address how amending terminology within these texts may benefit the region.


Debra Shefi


November 2011



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