Republic of Cyprus

Underwater Cultural Heritage


Cyprus, with its long and rich nautical history, attaches great importance to the protection of antiquities which lie on its seabed and, regulates activities in relation thereto, in order to protect its cultural and historical monuments from looting or from damage due to other maritime activities. The Republic of Cyprus, according to the Antiquities law (Cap.31), exercises sovereignty as regards underwater cultural heritage in the territorial sea and jurisdiction as regards underwater cultural heritage in the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf, aiming at their protection – as its obligation pursuant to 303§1 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.


In relation to the contiguous zone, see further the Contiguous Zone Law of 2004 (Law Νo. 63(Ι)/2004), according to section 4(c) of which, the contiguous zone of the Republic of Cyprus also constitutes an archaeological zone.

The Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage Regulations of 2016 (218/2016) are applied in all maritime zones of Cyprus, regulating matters concerning the protection of underwater cultural heritage. The Regulations are based on the Annex of the 2001 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, which constitutes an important guidance for anyone who undertakes exploration and excavation activities on antiquities at sea.



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