This Charter is intended to encourage the protection and management of underwater
cultural heritage in inland and inshore waters, in shallow seas and in the deep oceans. It
focuses on the specific attributes and circumstances of cultural heritage under water and
should be understood as a supplement to the ICOMOS Charter for the Protection and
Management of Archaeological Heritage, 1990. The 1990 Charter defines the “archaeological
heritage” as that part of the material heritage in respect of which archaeological methods
provide primary information, comprising all vestiges of human existence and consisting of
places relating to all manifestations of human activity, abandoned structures, and remains
of all kinds, together with all the portable cultural material associated with them. For the
purposes of this Charter underwater cultural heritage is understood to mean the
archaeological heritage which is in, or has been removed from, an underwater environment.
It includes submerged sites and structures, wreck-sites and wreckage and their
archaeological and natural context.