Friday, July 13, 2007

 

New inspectors: look after our shipwrecks or face a year in prison

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Bermuda Sun
July 13, 2007


Inspectors have been appointed to help preserve Bermuda's underwater museums for future generations.

Anyone who damages one of the island's historic wrecks can expect a fine of up to $25,000 or one year in prison from the 23 new inspectors.

The inspectors have been taken on board to enforce the Historic Wrecks Act 2001 and "oversee" the activities of people who hold licenses to work on historic wrecks or sites.

Chairman of the Historic Wrecks Authority Dame Jennifer Smith said the new appointees were already involved in maritime activities. They include dive boat operators, fisheries wardens, marine police and coral reef scientists.

Philippe Rouja, a diver and technical officer in the Conservation Services Department, received his certificate of appointment as an inspector on July 11. He said the Act made it illegal for anyone to damage any part of, or remove any artifact from an historic wreck or an area classified as a marine heritage site.

He added: "However, I get the strong feeling that most people just want to enjoy the wrecks responsibly."

The Hon Neletha Butterfield, Minister of Environment, Telecommunications and E-commerce, said the wrecks were underwater museums.

She said: "Shipwrecks have played a defining role in Bermuda's history and exploring shipwrecks is a uniquely Bermudian tradition. By opening many new shipwreck sites to the public we are hoping to keep a uniquely Bermudian tradition alive.

"Shipwrecks have changed from objects of salvage, to objects for exploration and are now used for scientific investigation."

Bermuda was the world's first country to enact legislation to protect sea turtles in 1620 and Dame Smith said over the past 400 years land and marine conservation has "taken bold steps that are not always popular, but are in the interest of a sustainable future."


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