trade a boat - - THE CROW’S NEST -

The re­cent dis­cov­ery of the World War II ship­wreck SS Iron Crown her­alds im­mi­nent changes in Aus­tralia’s leg­isla­tive pro­tec­tion of sunken ves­sels in our coastal wa­ters.

In April, the CSIRO an­nounced the dis­cov­ery of the Iron Crown in Bass Strait, off the

Vic­to­rian coast. The freighter was ship­ping ore from Whyalla (SA) to New­cas­tle (NSW) when she was struck by a tor­pedo from a Ja­panese sub­ma­rine on 4 June 1942, sink­ing in 60 sec­onds.

“The wreck ap­pears to be rel­a­tively in­tact and is sit­ting up­right on the seafloor in about 700m of wa­ter,” said Emily Jat­eff, chief sci­en­tist at the Aus­tralian Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum.

There are about 8,000 his­toric ship­wrecks in Aus­tralian wa­ters. Since 1976, the pro­tec­tion of this unique and ir­re­place­able mar­itime her­itage has come un­der the statu­tory um­brella of the Com­mon­wealth His­toric Ship­wrecks

Act. But that will change on 1 July 2019 when the Un­der­wa­ter Cul­tural Her­itage Act 2018 (UCHA) comes into ef­fect.

While con­tin­u­ing to pro­tect Aus­tralia’s ship­wrecks, the UCHA will broaden pro­tec­tion to sunken air­craft and other un­der­wa­ter cul­tural her­itage (in­clud­ing hu­man re­mains), along with their frag­ile nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments.

The new Act will have ef­fect both in Aus­tralian wa­ters and in seas out­side Aus­tralian ju­ris­dic­tion.

To that end, the UCHA applies a suite of mon­i­tor­ing and in­ves­ti­ga­tion pow­ers to be ex­er­cised by state and Fed­eral agen­cies, with a range of civil and criminal penal­ties for an in­di­vid­ual that in­clude im­pris­on­ment for five years and fines up to a max­i­mum of $168,000.

The UCHA’S wide-rang­ing changes will im­pact recre­ational divers, eco-tour com­pa­nies, pro­po­nents of off­shore de­vel­op­ments, en­vi­ron­ment and her­itage con­sul­tants, marine ar­chae­ol­o­gists, con­trac­tors work­ing in the marine en­vi­ron­ment and port au­thor­i­ties, to name a few.

To help peo­ple un­der­stand and meet their new statu­tory obli­ga­tions, a tran­si­tion pe­riod will ap­ply from 1 July 2019 un­til 31 De­cem­ber 2019.

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