Protecting Shipwrecks and Marine Heritage Sites

There has been a long-standing tradition of salvage and scuba diving for the collection of artefacts in Bermuda. Bermuda is in fact a nation built on salvage both as a black market and a Government sanctioned activity.

The protection and archaeological investigation of shipwrecks is one of the main tenants of the Historic Wrecks Act 2001, which specifically prohibits any collection of artefacts from shipwrecks and marine heritage sites without a license and imposes a fine of up to $25,000 for anyone caught contravening the Act.

There have been many responsible collectors in Bermuda and the 2001 Historic Wrecks Act provided an Amnesty from prosecution for contraventions of the previous wrecks and salvage act.

In this way Bermuda’s rich private collections of artefacts could be catalogued and made available as part of a virtual database to the public for research and enjoyment.

As per the letter below, from the then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment 2004, all older collections of shipwreck artefacts collected prior to this Act are free from the threat of prosecution.