Victorian Heritage Act (1995)
- Maritime Heritage Legislation -
Shipwrecks are protected in Victoria under the Victorian Heritage Act 1995 and the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. Both laws are administered by Heritage Victoria. All shipwrecks and shipwreck relics in Victorian waters that are at least 75 years old are protected by these two laws. Some shipwrecks less than 75 years old can also be protected.
The Victorian Heritage Act 1995 protects historic shipwrecks and relics in State waters, which includes bays, harbours and rivers such as Port Phillip Bay, Gippsland Lakes and the Goulburn River.
The Act protects all shipwrecks and relics associated with ships that have been in Victorian waters for 75 years or more, whether or not their existence or location is known. The Act also allows for shipwrecks and relics less than 75 years old to be specifically protected under the Act.
The Act provides for the protection and conservation of shipwreck sites and associated relics for the benefit of all Victorians by ensuring their continued preservation. The Act controls activities which may result in the destruction, damage, removal, disturbance or interference of an historic shipwreck or associated relic.
The removal of shipwreck relics, and buying, selling, exchanging or disposing of a shipwreck or associated relic is prohibited without a permit. Divers may visit shipwreck sites for recreational purposes, but relics must not be removed from the site and the fabric of the shipwreck must not be disturbed, unless a permit has been obtained.
The Act states that the finder of a shipwreck or associated relic must advise Heritage Victoria in writing within 7 days by providing the details required by the Heritage (Historic Shipwrecks) (General) Regulations 1996. Shipwreck Reporting Forms can be obtained from Heritage Victoria. The Act also provides for rewards to be made to the finders of previously unknown shipwrecks...