22.06.2016 - Culture Sector

Underwater Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development around the reconstruction of the Basque whaling ship San Juan

On 16 June 2016, the Basque Maritime Heritage Association Albaola organized a Colloquium on “Underwater Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development” at Albaola exhibition centre and shipyard in Pasaia (Spain). The Colloquium gathered key experts in underwater archaeology, cultural managers, naval constructors and national, regional and local authorities.

The event had as a background the shipyard where the Basque whaling ship San Juan is being built. UNESCO gave its patronage to the project of the reconstruction of the San Juan in 2015, within the framework of the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.  

The San Juan whaling ship - an example of the first transoceanic ships that set sail from the Basque Country to North America- sank off the coast of Canada in Red Bay in 1565. The archaeological team from Parks of Canada found the wreck and spent 30 years  researching and excavating it, shaping the underwater archaeology discipline of Canada and worldwide. The contribution of this research became so paramount in the field of the underwater cultural heritage that the remains of the San Juan became the logo of the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage and Red Bay was elected World Heritage Site in 2013. 

On the occasion of the Colloquium, a plaque recognising this patronage was inaugurated by a representative of UNESCO Secretariat. Albaola has presented their project as an example of how underwater cultural heritage can contribute to safeguarding traditional maritime practices as well as boosting sustainable development 

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