A diver has been fined over £1,000 for removing artefacts from a protected shipwreck off South Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands. The HMS Duke of Albany had been torpedoed in 1916 with significant loss of life and was designated as a ‘protected place’ by the Secretary of State for Defence in 2010 under the terms of the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986. The Act makes it a criminal offence to remove or tamper with any item that is part of a wreck designated under the Act without a government licence. There are currently 67 such wrecks designated in UK or international waters. For more details visit http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/DefencePolicyAndBusiness/WarGraveThiefConvicted.htm Other historical wreck sites are designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act (1973). These are sites that are likely to be the remains of a vessel, or its contents, which are of historical, artistic or archaeological importance. 61 wreck sites are designated under this act in the UK. Visiting divers need a licence to dive these sites, and any archaeological work can also only be carried out via a licence process. Take a look at www.english-heritage.org.uk/discover/maritime/diver-visits/ for more information on the sites and licence procedures.
By Carolina Schultz, TQM coordinator, PADI EMEA