The Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 (Cth) is the Commonwealth Act which, together with similar legislation passed by the States, protects shipwrecks and related articles that lie in the waters around the Australian coast that are older than 75 years of age. Regulations under the Act prohibit all kinds of activities (such as trawling or diving) that might damage a historic shipwreck or relic. Permits to explore and recover historic shipwrecks and relics are granted by the Minister. Anyone finding the remains of a ship or an article associated with a ship must notify the Minister as soon as practicable. Rewards and compensation are payable under the Act. A person who damages, interferes, or disposes of, a historic relic or shipwreck (or part of it), or removes it from the water may be fined up to $10 000 or gaoled for five years (or both).
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