Importance of Inventories on Underwater Cultural Heritage
Inventories have been long used as an important tool in the management of cultural heritage.
They are a key component of cultural management plans, indispensable in order to know, protect, preserve and research all underwater cultural heritage found in an specific territory or region.
The 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage underlines the importance of inventories in the protection of this heritage. Under the Convention, States Parties are obliged to establish a ‘competent authority’ and to provide for the establishment, maintenance and updating of an inventory of underwater cultural heritage (Art. 22). In practice, this inventory is the archive or the index to the archive in which cumulative information on existing heritage sites is retained. It is a key element in the protection and management of underwater cultural heritage. Preliminary work builds on the inventory, on the one hand, and is one of its major sources on the other.
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The Conference of States Parties to the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage adopted, on its 4th session, a Model Sheet for Inventories of Underwater Cultural Heritage (Resolution 4/ MSP4 paragraph 8) in order to encourage the development of States Parties' own registers and to facilitate the management and protection of their submerged heritage.
This Model Sheet can be used as a standard guideline to establish national registers of underwater cultural heritage, adapting it to the especific conditions and circumstances of every Member State.