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  • PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
  • TITLE XIV PUBLIC WAYS AND WORKS
  • CHAPTER 91 WATERWAYS
  • Section 63 Salvage, recovery, etc. of underwater archaeological resources; permits; restrictions; disposition of resources; enforcement; violations; penalties; jurisdiction and venue

Section 63. No person, organization or corporation may remove, displace, damage or destroy underwater archaeological resources as defined in section one hundred and eighty of chapter six, except in conformity with the provisions of this section. Any qualified person, organization or corporation desiring to conduct any type of exploration, recovery or salvage operations in the course of which any underwater archaeological resources, with the exception of those specifically exempted from permit requirements, may be removed, displaced or destroyed shall first make application to the director for a permit to conduct such operations. If the director, with the approval of the board, shall find that the operations desired involve underwater archaeological resources and said operations are in the public interest, he shall, within thirty days from the receipt of application, grant the initial applicant a permit which allows said applicant the sole right to remove or salvage said resources for a period of one year. Said permits shall include without limitation the location, nature of activity, reporting requirements and time period covered and shall provide for the termination of the rights of the permittee upon violation of any of the terms of the permit. Until such time as a permit for any given site is granted, all records regarding the permit application for said site shall be confidential unless released by the applicant.

A uniform fee for such permits shall be determined annually by the commissioner of administration under the provision of section three B of chapter seven. Said permits shall be renewable by the director upon approval of the board; provided, however, that operations on the location have been conducted during the period of the original permit.

The permittee may, with the approval of the board, subcontract his permit rights to another qualified person, organization or corporation, subject to the provisions of this section and the terms of the original permit.

All exploration, recovery and salvage operations undertaken pursuant to said permit shall be carried out under the general supervision of the board in accordance with its rules and regulations so that the maximum amount of historical, scientific, archaeological and educational information may be recovered, reported and preserved. If the director deems necessary, he may require that a permittee shall work under the direction of a qualified expert designated by the board. Permittees shall be responsible for obtaining permission of any federal agencies having jurisdiction prior to conducting any operations.

Permittees may retain seventy-five per cent of the value of said underwater archaeological resources. The remainder of such value shall be paid to the commonwealth; provided, however, that the commonwealth and private museums within the commonwealth shall have the first option to purchase within six months said resources at fair market value. Final disposition of said resources and the proceeds from the sale thereof shall be made within one year from the date of salvage unless extended by mutual agreement between the board and the permittee with the approval of the commissioner of administration and finance. Until final disposition the commonwealth and the permittee shall act in such a way as to preserve and protect all salvaged underwater archaeological resources except when recovered from a designated underwater archaeological preserve.

Upon the request of an applicant or permittee, the board may require a public hearing, if said board deems such a hearing in the public interest, on the granting or renewal of a permit, the subcontracting of permit rights, or the disposition of resources recovered under a permit.

The director shall invite information regarding underwater archaeological resources of substantial historical value and the location thereof, and shall cause to be printed a list of these resources which shall be designated as underwater archaeological preserves. Access to underwater archaeological preserves for recreational, historical, and scientific purposes shall be guaranteed. The director shall not grant a permit to recover underwater archaeological resources from within an underwater archaeological preserve except for historical or scientific purposes, and provided further, that all materials collected through such activities shall remain the permanent property of the commonwealth. The board may make arrangements for the disposition or display of any such materials recovered from within an underwater archaeological preserve in appropriate institutions located within the commonwealth. A public hearing may be requested regarding the designation of any underwater archaeological resource as a preserve. Persons may petition the director to designate certain resources as a preserve.

The director shall invite information regarding previously discovered or salvaged underwater archaeological resources and the location thereof, and shall cause to be printed a list of previously discovered and commonly known underwater archaeological resources and locations thereof which shall be exempt from the preceding permit requirements. A public hearing may be requested regarding the placement of any individual resource on said list. Persons may petition the director to add certain resources to said list.

Law enforcement agencies and officers of the commonwealth and its subdivisions shall enforce the laws, rules and regulations pertaining to underwater archaeological resources and shall protect the permittee from the removal or salvage of said resources by unauthorized parties. If such protection is extended at the request of the permittee for a period in excess of two months, the permittee shall pay reasonable costs of such protection.

Any person violating a provision of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, imprisonment for six months, or both, and shall forfeit any underwater archaeological resources he has obtained thereby. In addition his permit, if any, shall be subject to revocation or suspension. Violations committed within the coastal waters of the commonwealth may be prosecuted in any district which has venue over the coastal waters. The superior court sitting in equity shall have jurisdiction to restrain continuing violations of section sixty-five and shall have jurisdiction to compel the restoration to the commonwealth of any underwater archaeological resources taken in violation of the provisions of this section.