5 October 2018: Research Fellow Zhen Sun Presents Paper at The Legal Regime of Underwater Cultural Heritage and Marine Scientific Research Conference in Bodrum, Turkey
At The Legal Regime of Underwater Cultural Heritage and Marine Scientific Research Conference in Bodrum, Turkey, Research Fellow Sun Zhen presented a paper titled ‘Protecting Underwater Cultural Heritage in the EEZ and on the CS—Could the Marine Scientific Research Regime Play a Role?’ The conference was organised by the Research Center of the Sea and Maritime Law, DEHUKAM, Ankara University, and co-organised by the Center for Oceans Law and Policy (COLP), University of Virginia.
Underwater cultural heritage (UCH) has become the internationally accepted phrase used to refer to historical and archaeological material in maritime areas that have a value or quality worthy of protection. UNCLOS established a general duty for states to protect objects of an archaeological and historical nature found at sea and cooperate for this purpose. However, there is no corresponding rights and jurisdiction of the state to protect the UCH found in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and on the continental shelf.
Activities directed at the UCH include a broad range of activities. Marine archaeology, for example, consists of research, survey and exploration activities that are scientific in their approach. Data obtained through these scientific activities could be used to gather information about the natural resources of the surveyed marine area even though this was not the primary purpose of the activities. This raises the question of which regulatory regime should apply to these activities.
This paper argues that certain activities directly at the UCH, such as treasure hunting, are applied marine scientific research that is subject to regulation by the coastal state. In addition, marine archaeology, as an independent scientific discipline, is a new use of the oceans and should be conducted with due regard to the rights and interests of all states.