It came as no surprise that on Thursday 15th of April exactly 100 years after the fateful sinking, the wreckage of the world's most famous shipwreck fell under the auspice of UNESCO’s Convention of the protection of the underwater cultural heritage fund. The fund which was set up in 2001 applies to ‘all traces of human existence of cultural, historical or archaeological character that have been underwater for at least 100 years’.
Somewhat harder to predict is the effect this will have on the careful cataloguing of future Titanic artefacts. Whilst Premier Exhibition the sole legal guardian of the artefacts from RSS Titanic did show a slight downturn in it’s stock following the announcement, the prospect of titanic exhibitions to come with interest in it’s story at an all time high looks rosy.
Although the United States is not party of the Convention of the protection of the Underwater cultural heritage fund, Articles 149 and 303 of The Law of the Sea convention leaves salvage and finder rights untouched, so commercial development of the titanic remains possible.
According to the THE JOINT NAUTICAL ARCHAEOLOGY POLICY COMMITTEE held at the Burlington House back in October 2005 has delivered the community with following clarification:
RMS Titanic Maritime Memorial Act
The 1985 discovery of Titanic raised concerns about how to protect it from looting and unwanted salvage and resulted in the enactment of the RMS Titanic Maritime Memorial Act of 1986. As there are no legal bars to such salvage and no nation may exert sovereignty or sovereign rights over this or any other shipwreck in the high seas, the US Congress recognized that coordination with other nations was necessary to fully protect Titanic. The Act suggested that the wreck site be treated as a maritime memorial, encouraged the negotiation of an international agreement and international guidelines for the exploration, research and, if determined appropriate, the possible salvage of artifacts. NOAA’s published guidelines based on the Rules Annexed to the Titanic Agreement that were developed in consultation with representatives from the UK, France and Canada.10 These guidelines and rules are also based on the ICHMOS Charter and the Rules Annexed to the UNESCO UCH Convention. The US signed the Agreement on Titanic on June 18, 2004.
The protection it does offer, provides Titanic enthusiasts with a win-win situation; wholesale exploitation of the wreck- something no-one wants- is forbidden, whilst careful and respectful exploration based on viable historical interest can continue. Premier Exhibition proven stewardship of existing items and the tantalising possibility of new wonders to come will help ensure that the Titanic’s rich history- and the lessons learnt from the tragedy- will be enjoyed for generations to come.
(NASDAQ:prxi) Premier’s exhibition's daughter company RMS Titanic Inc takes visitors on a journey through the life of Titanic and is currently on tour across the United States as well as in Singapore. For details of an exhibition near you visit
Senior Editor Ian Jackson contributed to this article.