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Cultural Property Protection under Sea: Untold Security Perspectives

marine economy and marine science brings its own set of risks to the undersea heritage and its protection and conservation

People reduce security considerations for undersea cultural heritage to illicit activities of looters, pirates, illegal fishing and treasure hunters. They think about fishing, offshore energy exploration, the laying of submarine cables, deep sea mining and perhaps about protection of cultural heritage in armed conflicts. Remarkably, all these activities are regulated, monitored and controlled.

People, however, tend to ignore the impacts of legitime ocean activities that are less regulated, such as maritime toursim and marine science. Security considerations should range further and touch upon advising and assisting these stakeholders in their environment, social and governance efforts.This security dimension for preserving undersea cultural heritage has not been told yet – until now.

The vast expanses of our oceans harbour immeasurable treasures, not only in the form of natural wonders, but also in the form of cultural property and undersea cultural heritage. These submerged relics of human history are of immense historical, archaeological, and cultural significance and offer invaluable insights into past civilisations, trade routes and technological advances.

The international community of NGOs invested a lot in various projects in preserving underwater cultural heritage and coastal areas. Neither the ocean business sector nor the private security domain play a significant role in efforts to preserve and protect cultural property under sea.

The UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage provides an important framework for the protection of underwater historical sites and artefacts worldwide. Adopted in 2001, this treaty aims to protect underwater heritage through international co-operation, ethical guidelines, and legal principles. However, with the increse of marine researches and expansion of maritime tourism, the activities of less regulated stakeholders of understanding their involvement in respecting and protecting underwater cultural heritage remains ambiguous.

Risk Assessment for Undersea Heritage

It is evident that each stakeholder in the marine economy and marine science brings its own set of risks to the undersea heritage and its protection and conservation. Dealing with these risks requires a multi-layered approach, including a comprehensive impact assessments by legitimate activities and increased co-operation between stakeholders. According to the Convention’s wording, the coastal state authorities are responsible for ensuring the safeguarding of the undersea heritage and enforcing protection regulations. However, the private sector has its own responsibility concerning ESG.

A Cultural Challenge and Security Education

Private security consultants need to play a more prominent role in addressing these challenges for maritime economy and marine science. These stakeholders should benefit from the expertise and resources of private security consultants to understand, assess and address their risk to the integrity of cultural heritage at sea. They can offer a range of services, including deconfliction protocols, monitoring and controlling their own business activities. In this way, they effectively complement government efforts to protect undersea cultural heritage through a coordinated and co-operative presenc

Preserving underwater cultural heritage presents a particular challenge compared to terrestrial sites. The underwater environment makes it even more difficult to understand the impact of our own business activities and monitoring and control measures.

By prioritising the preservation of underwater cultural heritage alongside economic interests, we can ensure that future generations inherit a rich and diverse picture of human history under the sea.

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