The Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 protects all shipwrecks and associated relics that are 75 or more years old, regardless of whether their physical location is known. More recent shipwrecks may be declared as historic under the Historic Shipwrecks Act by the Minister.
Historic shipwrecks are protected for their heritage values and maintained for recreational, scientific and educational purposes. Divers can use wreck sites for recreational purposes but relics must not be removed from the wreck site and the physical fabric of the wreck must not be disturbed unless a permit has been obtained.
Some historic shipwrecks lie within protected or no-entry zones. These zones may cover an area up to a radius of 800 metres around a wreck site, and may be declared where circumstances place it at particular risk of interference.
The protected zone ensures that a fragile or sensitive historic shipwreck is actively managed. Permits to transit or enter a protected zone for activities such as diving, fishing or commemorative ceremonies can be applied for. The permits will have conditions that ensure that any planned activities respect the shipwreck, its associated relics and ensure its preservation. If a memorial ceremony is planned it is preferred that any wreaths are biodegradable to prevent damage to both the shipwreck and the environment.
Historic shipwreck protected zones
Search for heritage places
- Australian National Maritime Museum
- Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology
- Devonport Maritime Museum
- Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria
- Maritime Archaeological Association of Queensland
- Maritime Archaeological Association of WA
- Norfolk Island Museum
- Southern Ocean Exploration
- The Sydney Project