Random Jottings

Vandalism, what's your definition?

Looking at a recent facebook post there were several people who accused divers who took 'bits' from wrecks as undertaking acts of vandalism, it got me thinking.....

Look at any diary and you will see that vandalism is:-

Action involving deliberate destruction or damage to public or private property

Quite straight forward and I would argue that divers taking 'bits' are not involved in deliberate destruction, rather they are taking 'bits' for one of a few reasons, from the historically useful to 'selfish'......to help identification of the wreck.......I want a porthole for....

Let's remember that divers who haven't followed the correct procedure when taking 'bits' and contacting the Receiver of Wrecks (link at end) will risk facing prosecution for theft and not vandalism. However there is a proviso here, all wrecks have an owner and the owner can of course give permission for the recovery of 'bits', examples being SS Breda at Oban and SS Somali at Beadnell who are both owned by local dive operations. There are also several dive clubs which I know have purchased wrecks for a peppercorn sum.

There are of course given no-no's which include taking 'bits' from vessels which have been identified and assigned as war graves, in some cases these sites are no dive areas for example HMS Royal Oak others are simply well monitored and popular dive sites HMS Pathfinder. The problem is that even the UK government can be somewhat sloppy with regards war graves and sold the wrecks of three cruisers, HMS Crecy, Aboukir and Hogue for salvage despite the loss of 1459 men and boys in the sinkings.......And you have to consider the difference between lifting brass from the easily accesible areas to flattening the wreck to recover valuable condensers and other major pieces of the engine room!

The other no-no is to touch/take from a designated wreck, these are well known and policed so just don't!

In summary, if the owner is known and happy then take what you want in line with their guidelines, if the ship owner is unknown, either because it's a 'new' wreck or because it's unknown then recoveries must be reported to the Receiver of Wrecks or you could face a fine and finally if it's a war-grave or designated wreck then no touch. Simples follow these guidelines and rules then it's demonstrable that you are neither a thief or vandal although arm-chair pundits may/will still chunter!

On the subject of vandals...................

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-39680781

We are quite lucky here in the North East that scallop dredging isn't a big thing, although last year the riot act was read to some Eyemouth fishermen who were flouting several laws by dredging some known beds with a conservation area and too close to shore.

Lets be plain scallop dreging is highly damaging to public property, does that sound familiar? And it's a bit of a misnomer the activity is more scallop ploughing as vast swathes of the sea-bed are effectively ploughed up, on a regular basis, to catch the scallops which lets not forget the fishermen sell at around £1.50 each, it's commercially lucrative and one reason that the fisheries protection boats switch off their MMSI equipment when they are out at sea, to avoid early detection by the real vandals.

So in summary guys if you want to stay with your butts in chairs and campaign then how about trying to get some more inshore waters designated as protected areas where only sustainable fishing via hand or pot is allowed?

Dive safe

RichW

Receiver of wrecks -> This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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