Nova Scotia Law

At the federal level, the Department of Canadian Heritage is involved through the Underwater Archaeology Section in the National Historic Parks and Sites of Canada Branch.

In Canada, when speaking of wrecks, reference is made to the Canada Shipping Act, which requires that any wreck or fragment or object taken from a wreck be declared. The Act applies to all navigable waterways. Receivers of wrecks are appointed in various districts in Canada. They are associated with Canadian Coast Guard Services. Receivers have one year to find the owner or owners, after which they may dispose of the wreck or associated objects by sale or by turning it over to the salvager. When a sale takes place, compensation is paid to the salvager to cover reasonable expenses.

In Nova Scotia, all archaeological resources are covered by the Special Places Protection Act, 1980, whether they are located on land or under water. Although there is no definition of what constitutes a heritage wreck, these resources are regarded as archaeological or historical resources by the Department of Education and thereby covered by the legislation.

The Nova Scotia Museum is attempting to develop a new vision for:
Maritime Heritage Resource Management.

We should also be concerned about Treasure Trove permits that have been issued by the Department of Natural Resources, which seem to conflict with the permits of reconnaissance and excavation as provided by the museum.

Large underwater areas are being allocated to individuals/consortiums for exploration purposes under the Treasure Trove Act of 1954, which effectively prevents pleasure diving in those locations. It appears large tracts are involved, with rights extending for many years, with no requirement to actually "work" these sites. We are losing more of our underwater heritage to "outside interests", as well as the right to enjoy our own "backyard".