Current Affairs
New department to protect underwater cultural heritage

The new Department of Underwater Cultural Heritage set up within Heritage Malta will manage and protect the cultural patrimony found beneath our seas while making it possible to increase diving attractions.

Years of underwater archeological research off the coast of the Maltese islands during which a number of deposits of cultural value were discovered and documented on maps will now be made accessible to the public.

The sites vary from the oldest relics of a Phoenician schooner in the Mediterranean which dates back 2,700 years to sites where there are a number of sunken planes and ships.

Managed by Prof Timmy Gambin from the University of Malta, in collaboration with the Superintendency of Cultural Patrimony, this new department has been given the responsibility of identifying a number of underwater sites to make them accessible to the public.

“Divers will now be able to go down to these sites but there will also be access through other activities. What are these other activities? Documentaries, for example, outreach programmes where we go to speak to schoolchildren and hold talks for the public through our website as well.”

Around ten historical sites will be opened this year and Heritage Malta aims to open between three and five new sites within the next two years. This will give added value to the tourism package for divers who visit Malta for this purpose.

Culture Minister Owen Bonniċi said that local diving schools, boats, and clubs will be obliged to register online with Heritage Malta. He added that the agency will be monitoring these relics through regular inspections to ensure their protection. He added that there has also been an amendment to the law so that there would be unanimous agreement about our cultural patrimony.

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