Results of the Work of the Advisory Body

The Scientific and Technical Advisory Body's (STAB) contributions are wide and varied, and its experts offer advice on numerous topics including:

  • the implementation of national legislation in line with the 2001 Convention;
  • the identification and mitigation of the most important threats to underwater cultural heritage at a local, national and international level;
  • the establishment and harmonization of national and international inventories of underwater cultural heritage; 
  • the development of responsible public access to and increased awareness of underwater cultural heritage;
  • the benefits of the valorization of underwater cultural heritage;
  • the incorporation of underwater cultural heritage into educational initiatives. 

Some concrete examples of Advisory Body contributions are presented below. An overview of the resolutions and recommendations agreed upon at the various Advisory Body meetings is available here

Member of the Advisory Body mission to Haiti investigating the purported Santa Maria site © Courtesy Maksaens Denis/BNE

The Case of the 'Santa Maria'

In 2014 the Haitian Ministry of Culture called upon the Advisory Body's expertise in order to investigate a shipwreck which had been identified as the possible remains of the Santa Maria - Christopher Columbus' flagship on his first expedition to the New World in 1492. In response the STAB mounted a mission to Haiti, examined the site and published a thorough report concluding that the wreck was from a later date and therefore could not be the Santa Maria

The HMS Majestic, torpedoed by a U-Boat and sunk on 27 May 1915. © WikiCommons

World War I Anniversary

Acknowledging the tragedy of war and the importance of commemorating the lives lost at sea, the Advisory Body called for special attention to be drawn to the 100th anniversary of World War I. Public events, such as Dive for Peace Day, as well as a scientific conference on World War I underwater cultural heritage and peace education initiatives were subsequently organized. From 2014 onwards, World War I underwater heritage will begin to fall under the protection of the 2001 UNESCO Convention. 

© Christoph (Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 license)

Code of Ethics

In its first session, the Advisory Body proposed a Code of Ethics for Diving on Submerged Archaeological Sites. This Code was adopted by the Meeting of States Parties and is now applicable to all divers in the waters of States Parties, and to all nationals of States Parties.

Community volunteers record a shipwreck at a NAS course in Alaska © Travis S. (Creative Commons BY-NC 2.0 license)

NGO Accreditation

Recognizing the importance of NGOs related to underwater cultural heritage, the Advisory Body has always been an active proponent of increased cooperation among NGOs and between NGOs and the Advisory Body. With their extensive experience working directly in the field and with national authorities worldwide, NGOs contribute valuable knowledge and are instrumental in disseminating the principles of the 2001 Convention. Today 15 NGOs, acknowledged for their high ethical and scientific standards in maritime archaeology, are officially accredited to assist in the debates of the Advisory Body. Various others partake as observers. 

Information plates inform visitors on Florida Keys dive trail © Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research

Best Practice

In order to foster and promote high standards in underwater cultural heritage management, the STAB compiles examples of best practices in regard to research, conservation, public access, education, international cooperation, etc. These best practice examples are disseminated and serve as models and sources of inspiration for future projects. 

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