Preservation and Management of Underwater Archaeological Resources: Role of Agency

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Preservation and Management of Underwater Archaeological Resources: Role of Agency


Session 8
Pacific Islands region: Building UCH Capacity


Underwater archaeological resources within the Republic of Palau (henceforth referred to as the Republic) cover a wide array of types from famous World War II wrecks, to Yapese stone money disks which sank to the bottom of the sea during their transport, and to traditional sites - which includes but not limited to semi-submerged docks/piers, fish traps, burials, and a sunken city mentioned in traditional folklore. These resources are protected under the Cultural and Historical Preservation Act (henceforth referred to as Title 19) mandated by the Palau Bureau of Arts & Culture (henceforth referred to as the Bureau). More specifically, Chapter 3 of Title 19 known as the "Palau Lagoon Monument" is exclusively reserved for all submerged and semi-submerged foreign vessels located within the Republic’s territorial waters. Tour agencies play a proactive role in monitoring the health and condition of the wrecks, report new site locations, and notifies the Bureau of possible looting activities. A Geographic Information System database maintained by the Survey & Inventory/Archaeology Section within the Bureau keeps an inventory of underwater sites obtained from earlier works plus data from affiliated tour agencies.

This paper will examine the current situation within the Bureau and its subdivisions particularly the Survey & Inventory/Archaeology Section. It will provide detail of their efforts and goals, challenges, and gaps pertaining to the preservation and management of underwater archaeological resources. In addition, present case studies where the "Palau Lagoon Monument" clause was enacted. Lastly, we will discuss the measures and other aides available within the Bureau aimed towards assisting the state government establish medium-term goals for preservation and management plus effective long-term objectives beneficial for their state in terms of underwater cultural resources.


Sunny O. Ngirmang
Calvin T. Emesiochel


November 2011



Sunny O. Ngirmang and Calvin T. Emesiochel, “Preservation and Management of Underwater Archaeological Resources: Role of Agency
,” The MUA Collection, accessed June 23, 2021,

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