The Legal, Historical and Industrial Context of Underwater Cultural Heritage: Introduction

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review



Publication details

Title of host publicationThe Archaeology of Europe’s Drowned Landscapes
DatePublished - 10 Apr 2020
Number of pages9
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
EditorsGeoff Bailey, Nena Galanidou, Hans Peeters, Hauke Joens, Moritz Mennenga
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-37367-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-37366-5

Publication series

NameCoastal Research Library
ISSN (Print)2211-0577
ISSN (Electronic)2211-0585


Interactions between commercial and industrial exploitation of the seabed and archaeological and scientific investigation have been at the heart of developments in the understanding of Europe’s submerged landscapes and prehistory since at least the early twentieth century. This introduction considers some of the ways in which that relationship has evolved since that time, including the adoption of international laws under the aegis of United Nations Conventions, the development of close relationships between Dutch fishermen operating beam-trawl fishing nets in the North Sea and a network of private collectors specialising in Pleistocene fossils and artefacts, the imposition of European Union regulations on offshore industrial projects to include monitoring of underwater archaeology and palaeoenvironments and most recently the incorporation of seabed mapping and underwater cultural heritage in the European Union’s 2020 Blue Growth agenda. These developments have played an important role in the growth of knowledge about the underwater cultural heritage notwithstanding the potentially destructive effects of offshore industrial activity. The impact of economic growth and industrial exploitation in the coastal zone, coupled with sea-level rise, is likely to intensify the threats to the underwater cultural heritage in the coming decades, posing new challenges as well as opportunities in the further development of relationships between industrial operators, government agencies and scientific and archaeological researchers.

    Research areas

  • Beam-trawl fishing, Blue Growth, Environmental impact assessment, International law, Underwater cultural heritage, UNESCO convention

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