A. means any submerged shipwreck, vessel, cargo, tackle or underwater archaeological specimen, including any object found at underwater refuse sites or submerged sites of former habitation, that has remained unclaimed on the state-owned subaqueous bottom and has historic value as determined by the Department.
B. Underwater historic property shall be preserved and protected and shall be the exclusive property of the Commonwealth. Preservation and protection of such property shall be the responsibility of all state agencies including but not limited to the Department, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Insofar as may be practicable, such property shall be preserved, protected and displayed for the public benefit within the county or city within which it is found, or within a museum operated by a state agency.
C. It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to conduct any type of recovery operations involving the removal, destruction or disturbance of any underwater historic property without first applying for and receiving a permit from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to conduct such operations pursuant to § 28.2-1203. If the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, with the concurrence of the Department and in consultation with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and other concerned state agencies, finds that granting the permit is in the best interest of the Commonwealth, it shall grant the applicant a permit. The permit shall provide that all objects recovered shall be the exclusive property of the Commonwealth. The permit shall provide the applicant with a fair share of the objects recovered, or in the discretion of the Department, a reasonable percentage of the cash value of the objects recovered to be paid by the Department. Title to all objects recovered shall be retained by the Commonwealth unless or until they are released to the applicant by the Department. All recovery operations undertaken pursuant to a permit issued under this section shall be carried out under the general supervision of the Department and in accordance with § 28.2-1203 and in such a manner that the maximum amount of historical, scientific, archaeological and educational information may be recovered and preserved in addition to the physical recovery of items. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission shall not grant a permit to conduct operations at substantially the same location described and covered by a permit previously granted if recovery operations are being actively pursued, unless the holder of the previously granted permit concurs in the grant of another permit.
D. The Department may seek a permit pursuant to this section and § 28.2-1203 to preserve and protect or recover any underwater historic property.
1984, c. 750, § 10-262; 1988, c. 891, § 10.1-817; 1989, c. 656.