Evaluation of the Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987: Impact and Challenges for Preserving Underwater Cultural Heritage

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Abstract

In the demand of regulatory policy to control salvage of shipwrecks and protect the nation's underwater cultural heritage, the Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987 allowed the exception of the admiralty law to give states authority and management of abandoned shipwrecks for the purposes of preservation and recreation. Due to the lack of its regulatory power and vague standards, the Act has been harshly criticized for being ineffectual in resolving conflicts between commercial salvors, and states or protecting illicit salvage. This research will examine the purpose and impact of the policy under the framework of the National Historic Preservation Act, which restrained options in the policymaking. While acknowledging its limitations, this research finds that the Act enabled the inclusion of historic shipwrecks in the nation's preservation system, allowed funding, and promoted its use for public benefits. Studying the Act in the policy context of the U.S. historic preservation can promote the rightful understanding of its policy limitations as well as impact, and support feasible policy improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Arts Management Law and Society
Volume49
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019

Keywords

  • Abandoned Shipwreck Act
  • National Historic Preservation Act
  • heritage management
  • historic preservation
  • historic shipwreck
  • underwater cultural heritage

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