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The Law of the Sea Convention and Underwater Cultural Heritage

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image of The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law

AbstractAs far as underwater cultural heritage is concerned, the regime of the Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC) is fragmentary, insufficient and even counterproductive. The English text of Art. 303, para. 3, can be interpreted as an invitation to the looting of the heritage under a first-come-first-served, or “freedom-of-fishing,” criterion. Only Art. 149, which applies only to “the Area”, takes into consideration the need to use the heritage for the benefit of mankind and the preferential rights of some States. The 2001 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage tries to bring a remedy to the disastrous aspects of the LOSC regime. In short, even the LOSC can be bad, albeit in very rare instances, and the case of underwater cultural heritage is the most notable one.

Affiliations: 1: University of Milano-Bicocca Milan Italy, URL:


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