Requirements in terms of excavations
Within territorial waters and the contiguous zone (the area beyond territorial waters out to 24 nautical miles), the excavation of archaeological heritage, which includes wrecks, requires an excavation permit.
The excavation permit is required under Sections 45 to 47a of the Monuments and Historic Buildings Act (Monumentenwet) 1988. Moreover, the Monuments and Historic Buildings Act 1988 stipulates that when carrying out work any objects found that may reasonably be assumed to be of cultural-historical interest to be reported to the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. In the case of wrecks of cultural-historical value, more detailed consideration is required before these are salvaged or removed. Such consideration should be guided by the fundamental principles of the annex to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001). The aim of this convention is to combat the plundering of underwater archaeological heritage, particularly shipwrecks. In particular, as well as being a legislative instrument, it is the mechanism for international cooperation that the convention provides that is important. Furthermore, the Malta Convention and the UNESCO Convention oblige states that are party to the conventions to protect underwater cultural heritage and mitigate adverse effects within the scope of these conventions for economic activities falling under their jurisdiction. At present, the Cabinet is looking into steps to ensure ratification of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.