Thursday, March 09, 2006


50-year wreck ban threat remote


February 28, 2005

A maritime lawyer has moved to quell divers' concerns over possibly draconian Government measures to limit wreck-diving freedoms in British waters.

Recent postings on popular diving website forums have reflected growing concern among sport divers about perceived plans by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. These, it is feared, could impose severe limitations on wreck-diving and salvage, including a ban on disturbing wrecks more than 50 years old.

A well-positioned maritime lawyer has said that no such plan has been prepared. Mike Williams serves on the Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee, consisting of individuals and representatives of institutions and Government bodies involved with underwater cultural heritage. He has also been working on a salvage law working group tasked with assessing proposed changes to the law.

"I have been diving for 26 years and there is no way that I would be party to a blanket ban on diving wrecks over 50 years old," he told Divernet. "I can assure divers that to date I have not seen any proposals to inhibit diving on such wrecks."

He added: "The whole object of working groups is to formulate ideas that governmental departments can take away and consider. Consultation documents will follow any proposals that are formulated."

But Williams welcomed the growing interest within the sport-diving community. "It's good that divers are expressing an interest," he said, "but I simply wish to assure them that their concerns are premature."


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