For inquiries contact Victor Mastone, Director, Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources

Established in 1973, the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources is the sole trustee of the Commonwealth's underwater heritage, promoting and protecting the public's interests in these resources for recreational, economic, environmental and historical purposes.

The nine member state Board is part of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. At this time, Board members are: the State Archaeologist (Brona Simon), the Commissioner of Waterways (designee: Kevin Mooney), the State Archivist (designee: Terry French), the Director of Mineral Resources (designee: Pamela Harvey), and five gubernatorial appointees who include one representative from the Massachusetts Historical Commission (vacant), one Marine Archaeologist (vacant), one Law Enforcement Specialist (Richard Murray), and two representatives of the diving community (Charlene Colella and Joseph Gomes). Board members serve without compensation.

Under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 6, sections 179-180, and Chapter 91, section 63, the Board is charged with the responsibility of encouraging the discovery and reporting, as well as the preservation and protection, of underwater archaeological resources. Generally, those resources are defined as abandoned property, artifacts, treasure troves, and shipwrecks which have remained unclaimed for over 100 years, or exceed a value of $5,000, or are judged by the Board to be of historical value. The Commonwealth holds title to these resources and retains regulatory authority over their use. The Board's jurisdiction extends over the inland and coastal waters of the state.

No person may remove, displace, damage or destroy any underwater archaeological resource except in conformity with permits issued by the Board. The two types of permits are: Reconnaissance Permits - for the non-destructive inspection and identification of underwater archaeological resources and are characterized by minimum site disturbance; and Excavation Permits - to uncover and/or remove underwater archaeological resources through the use of disruptive investigation techniques. Permittees range from individual sport divers to corporate ventures. Permit requirements and standards are outlined in the Board's Regulations (312 CMR 2.0-2.15).

To deal with certain types of artifact discoveries, the Board's regulations provide an exemption from the permit process for isolated finds and exempted sites. In order to obtain title to an isolated find, an Isolated Find application form along with a map indicating the location of the find must be submitted to the Board. There is no application fee for an isolated find.

The purpose in creating an exempted shipwreck site is to preserve such sites for the continued enjoyment of the recreational diving community. Recreational diving activities, including casual artifact collection, on exempted shipwreck sites does not require a permit from the Board. However, any major disruption of the site is prohibited. The List of Exempt Shipwrecks is open to modification. The recreational diving community is encouraged to protect these sites for the continued enjoyment of all.

In addition, the Board may designate underwater archaeological preserves. The purpose of underwater archaeological preserves is to recognize and protect those resources of substantial archaeological and/or historical value. While access for recreational, scientific and historical purposes is guaranteed, collecting will not be allowed except for scientific or historical purposes, and the artifacts remain the permanent property of the Commonwealth.

Board meetings are held on a bi-monthly basis, generally on the last Thursday of the month. Meetings are open to the public and are usually held in Boston. The Board welcomes your comments and encourages you to attend its meetings.

If you would like a copy of the Board's Statue, Regulations, List of Exempt Sites, or Permit Applications, want to know the date/location of Board meetings, or have a question, contact:
Victor Mastone, Director, Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources
EOEA, Suite 2000, 100 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02202
Telephone: 617-727-9800, extension 212
FAX: 617-727-2754
e-mail: Victor.Mastone@State.MA.US
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