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Maritime heritage

Heritage NSW is the New South Wales entity responsible for administering the Commonwealth Underwater Cultural Heritage Act 2018 (UCHA), and the shipwreck and relics provisions of the NSW Heritage Act 1977 (within State waters of NSW).

The Executive Director, of Heritage NSW is the NSW Delegate for the day-to-day administration of the UCHA that protects shipwreck sites and associated relics located adjacent to NSW's coastal waters.

We receive Commonwealth funding to implement administrative functions and key priorities of the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Program under the UCHA 2018.

We maintain the NSW Maritime Heritage Database, a register of a diverse range of more than 2800 shipwrecks, relics and other underwater and maritime cultural heritage.

With its rugged coastline and large inland rivers, NSW has an extraordinary Maritime heritage and we oversee the protection, management and celebration of maritime heritage in NSW.

The NSW Maritime Heritage Program employs two full-time maritime archaeologists and leads by example in the research, documentation, management, protection and interpretation of underwater cultural heritage.

Heritage NSW works closely with divers, clubs, community groups, key Government and Commercial partners, and individuals.

People involved in recreational diving and fishing have located hundreds of the State's shipwrecks.

NSW Maritime Heritage Program

Through the maritime heritage program we:

  • provide guidance on management and protection of historic shipwrecks and maritime heritage sites in NSW
  • provide a key advisory and approvals role in development projects (such as marina construction, dredging, offshore telecommunications and pipeline deployment) that may affect underwater heritage sites 
  • administer legislation under the NSW Heritage Act 1977 and Commonwealth Underwater Cultural Heritage Act 2018
  • provide guidance on recording and reporting shipwrecks and relics
  • monitors and protect historic and declared maritime heritage sites
  • investigate reported maritime and riverine archaeological sites
  • manages the underwater cultural heritage of NSW and adjacent waters
  • undertake historical research into maritime heritage sites
  • maintain the NSW Maritime Heritage Database (a register of a diverse range of over 2800 shipwrecks, relics and other underwater and maritime cultural heritage)
  • provide outreach, community education and training programs.

Some of our initiatives include: