Working in murky waters

From Times Online

Marine Exploration revolves around its chief executive, Greg Stemm. Formerly a “fixer” for the comedian Bob Hope, Stemm has built a business in an arena known for extreme financial risk.

The sky-high costs of working at sea, combined with historical inaccuracies, rival salvors and destructive salt-water chemistry makes profits rare.

Odyssey employs about 150 people. Its two ships cost £25,000 a day to run. Stock market listing has given it access to the capital that its rivals can only dream of, but shareholders have yet to see the rewards. A legal and political minefield is to blame.

Ownership and insurance issues are complicated, but more emotive is the problem of whether it is right for history to be sold at all.

Unesco's treaty on underwater cultural heritage came into force at the start of this year, directed primarily at preventing the looting of shipwrecks by treasure hunters.

Central to the treaty is the notion that artefacts are for study, not trade. Allowing them to be sold encourages people to search for wrecks.


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