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Abandoned Shipwreck Act Guidelines

Part II. Guidelines

C. Funding Shipwreck Programs and Projects

Adequate funding is the key to the successful operation of programs for the management of publicly-owned shipwrecks. Without sufficient funding, a State or Federal agency would have difficulty carrying out its responsibilities under the Act and other applicable State and Federal property, land management, and historic preservation statutes and regulations as they relate to shipwrecks. These responsibilities include the survey, identification, documentation, evaluation, and protection of shipwrecks. In addition, it includes the study and preservation of historic shipwrecks and the storage, maintenance, conservation, study, interpretation, and exhibition of artifacts and other materials recovered from historic shipwrecks. It also includes providing public access to shipwrecks for recreational purposes and regulating public and private sector recovery of shipwrecks.

Expenses associated with the management of publicly-owned historic shipwrecks can be exorbitant, particularly costs to conduct scientific research underwater and to maintain and conserve artifacts and materials recovered from an underwater environment. But, the results of research, conservation, interpretation, and exhibition efforts also can generate substantial revenues, sometimes in excess of the costs, primarily through increased tourism. 4

The following guidelines are offered to assist the States and Federal agencies in securing and allocating funds and in generating revenues to carry out responsibilities to manage publicly-owned shipwrecks under their respective control.

Guideline 1: Fund shipwreck management programs and projects from annual appropriations.

State and Federal agency shipwreck management programs should be funded from annual appropriations. Separate appropriation requests should be made to conduct studies at a particular shipwreck site or to study an area for possible designation as an underwater park or preserve. Special studies should be undertaken only when a commitment is made to fund the study to completion. This means that when a special request to excavate a historic shipwreck is approved by a State legislature or the U.S. Congress, sufficient monies should be made available not only for the initial excavation, but also for the subsequent laboratory analysis, conservation treatments, storage and maintenance in an appropriate repository, report preparation, and public interpretation. Because studies of shipwreck sites ordinarily are completed over the course of several years, multi-year budget estimates should be prepared and submitted as part of the initial appropriation request for each project.

Guideline 2: Collaborate with other State and Federal agencies to reduce costs.

Where State and Federal agencies own or control contiguous submerged lands, they should enter into written agreements to coordinate their shipwreck management program activities. Jointly conducting archival research and field surveys that are regional in scope and encompass the submerged lands of all of the respective agencies would reduce overall costs, require fewer staff, eliminate duplication of effort, and result in a more complete and extensive assessment of known and potential shipwrecks in the areas studied. Jointly establishing, operating, and using conservation laboratories and repositories would reduce overall costs associated with storing, maintaining, and conserving artifacts and other materials removed from shipwreck sites.

Guideline 3: Fund projects from the Historic Preservation Fund.

Section 4(b) of the Act says that funds available to States from Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) grants shall be available, in accordance with Title I of the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470), for the study, interpretation, protection, and preservation of historic shipwrecks and properties. HPF grants to the States are available only after appropriation by the U.S. Congress and thus may or may not be available. When HPF grants are made to the States, without restrictions to the contrary, State historic preservation offices should include activities relating to historic shipwrecks within the scope of their program of eligible activities. In particular, historic shipwrecks should be included in the State's inventory of historic properties and the State's comprehensive historic preservation plan. This would enable the State to more effectively identify management needs, set priorities, undertake archival research, survey, identify, document, evaluate, interpret, protect, and preserve historic shipwrecks located in State waters.

Guideline 4: Fund projects using Coastal Zone Management grants.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management in the U.S. Department of Commerce has identified sections 306, 306A, and 309 of the Coastal Zone Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1455, 1455a, and 1456b) as potential funding authorities to assist States in developing and implementing State shipwreck management programs and related activities. Coastal Zone Management (CZM) grants would be available only to those States that have federally approved coastal zone management programs. Subject to annual appropriation by the U.S. Congress, without restrictions to the contrary, CZM grants may be made available through a State's coastal zone management office as follows:

(a) Section 306 CZM grants may be used to assist in the development of State shipwreck management programs. To be eligible for implementation grants under sections 306, 306A, and 309, shipwreck management programs must be incorporated into the State's federally approved coastal zone management program .

(b) Section 306A CZM grants may be used for low cost construction, acquisition or educational activities associated with the management of shipwrecks in the coastal zone. To be eligible, projects must meet one of the following objectives:

(1) Preservation or restoration of specific areas that are designated under the State's coastal zone management program because of their conservation, recreational, ecological or esthetic values, or because of their national significance;

(2) Redevelopment of deteriorating and underutilized urban waterfronts and ports that are designated under the State's coastal zone management program as "areas of particular concern;" or

(3) Provide for increased access to public beaches, coastal waters and other coastal areas.

(c) Section 309 CZM grants may be used for projects that address interstate or regional shipwreck management problems and solutions.

CZM grants could be of tremendous value to States as sources of funding for managing State-owned shipwrecks. Specific activities that a State may undertake using CZM grants would include, but not be limited to, designating areas within an underwater park in the coastal zone as "areas of particular concern" because they contain nationally significant historic shipwrecks, rehabilitating piers and replacing pilings to increase public access to and recreational use of State-owned shipwrecks, installing bulkheads to increase public safety when accessing shipwrecks, and developing educational and interpretive materials about shipwreck sites in the coastal zone.

Guideline 5: Use other appropriate Federal funding authorities.

The National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470 et seq.) and the Archeological and Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 469-469c) identify several methods for Federal agencies to ensure that sufficient monies are available to identify, evaluate, document, and recover data from historic shipwreck sites that may be affected by a Federal undertaking or a federally assisted, licensed or permitted project or program. Those methods include, but are not limited to, the following:

(a) For Federal undertakings, Federal agencies may use appropriated project funds to conduct underwater surveys and recover historic shipwrecks that will be impacted by the proposed undertaking. When estimating a project's costs, costs for surveys and shipwreck identification and evaluation efforts should be included in the project's planning budget while costs for documentation and excavation of sites and costs for conservation and preservation of recovered artifacts, materials, and associated records should be included in the project's mitigation budget;

(b) For Federal projects and programs carried out by a State agency on behalf of the Federal agency, Federal agencies may use appropriated funds to reimburse the State agency for costs incurred conducting preservation activities;

(c) For federally assisted projects, Federal agencies may use appropriated funds to reimburse grantees for costs incurred conducting preservation activities as a part of the grant project; and

(d) For federally licensed or permitted projects, Federal agencies may charge reasonable costs for preservation activities to Federal licensees and permittees as a condition to the issuance of the license or permit.

Guideline 6: Apply for other public and private sector grants.

Subject to annual appropriations by the U.S. Congress for such purposes, other public sector grant monies may be available for shipwreck projects. Federal granting agencies that may have funds available for shipwreck projects would include, but not be limited to, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In addition, private foundations, corporations, and businesses may have grant monies available for shipwreck projects; private sector grants often are contingent upon the grantor receiving exclusive media or advertising rights connected with the project.

Guideline 7: Encourage other States, Federal agencies, and nations to co-sponsor shipwreck projects.

Another State, Federal agency, or sovereign nation may be interested in co-sponsoring or otherwise participating in projects at shipwrecks to which they have an historical connection. When there is reason to believe that another party may be interested, they should be contacted and encouraged to participate. In addition, prior to conducting any studies of vessels entitled to sovereign immunity, the applicable U.S. Government agency or sovereign nation holding title must be contacted for permission. (Any contact with foreign sovereigns must be via the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs in the U.S. Department of State.)

Guideline 8: Authorize the acceptance of donations and the ability to enter into cooperative agreements.

In order to enable non-government parties to assist in locating, documenting, evaluating, studying, interpreting, and protecting publicly-owned shipwrecks, States and Federal agencies should ensure that they have the authority to:

(a) Accept donations of funds, personal property and services from other parties; and

(b) Enter into cooperative agreements with scientific and educational institutions.

Guideline 9: Encourage volunteers to participate in shipwreck projects.

Dive clubs, sport divers, and non-divers should be encouraged to volunteer their skills in shipwreck projects. Project activities often of interest to volunteers are assisting in the conduct of archival research, participating in surveys to locate shipwrecks, verifying remote sensing data that indicates the presence of shipwreck sites and anomalies, participating in test excavations, mapping and photographing shipwreck sites, helping evaluate a shipwreck's multiple values and uses, helping prepare nominations for the National Register, and assisting in the conservation of recovered artifacts. In addition, dive shops, dive boat operators, and other maritime and non-maritime corporations and businesses should be encouraged to donate the use of vessels, supplies, and equipment in shipwreck projects. Where shipwreck projects are funded in part by Federal grants, the monetary value of the volunteered and donated services, vessels, supplies, and equipment may be used under certain Federal grant programs as a match for Federal funds.

Guideline 10: Encourage scientific and educational organizations to participate in shipwreck projects.

Universities, colleges, and other scientific and educational organizations that offer avocational or professional underwater archeology courses should be encouraged to participate in shipwreck research projects; such organizations often are willing to participate and use projects as field schools to train students. In addition, universities and colleges that offer professional underwater archeology degree programs should be encouraged to participate in shipwreck projects; students in degree programs often are willing to participate and use projects as research sites for masters theses and doctoral dissertations.

Guideline 11: Require commercial salvors to post performance bonds.

Any contracts awarded to commercial salvors for the salvage of shipwrecks should require the salvor to post a performance bond in an amount that would cover costs associated with the activity. The posting of a performance bond should ensure that sufficient funds would be available to complete the salvage activity according to the terms of the contract, should the salvor be unable to do so. The posting of a performance bond would be particularly important where a contract is awarded by a State for the salvage of an historic shipwreck since the costs associated with conserving, maintaining, and storing artifacts and materials recovered from an underwater environment can be high.


4 The best example is in Sweden, where sufficient public and private funds were made available to document, raise, maintain, conserve, interpret, and exhibit the intact 17th century Swedish warship Vasa. Revenues generated annually into the Swedish economy by tourists visiting the Vasa are said to be $275 million.

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