Shipwreck Legislation Overview

The Historic Wrecks Act 2001 set pioneering new standards for the protection of Bermuda's Underwater Heritage. It provides blanket protection for all shipwrecks in Bermuda’s territorial waters, making it illegal to interfere with or remove anything from a Shipwreck or Marine Heritage Site without a licence.

For an overview of the evolution of Bermuda's shipwreck legislation read Dr. Rouja's 'Salvage to Science'.

It provides clear guidelines for the granting of licences for the exploration and excavation of shipwrecks to ensure that the most current archaeological standards are applied.

The Act also called for the Establishment of a National Collection.

In 2003 Dr. Philippe Rouja was hired as the Custodian of Historic Wrecks and The Historic Wrecks Authority was formed to oversee the implementation and management of the new Act.


Inspectors have been appointed for the enforcement of the Historic Wrecks Act 2001.

These are:

  • The Inspectors in the Bermuda Police force from Marine Police Section.
  • The Fisheries Wardens in the Department of Environmental Protection and the Technical Officers in the Department of Conservation Services.

Classification of Wrecks

These wrecks are classified as Open.