19th Century wreck, Finland

The Government of Åland, in Finland, is planning to sell underwater cultural heritage, more precisely glass bottles containing champagne from an early 19th century (est.) wreck which is known as the Champagne Schooner sometime in June.  The Åland area has a unique underwater cultural heritage, as a result of the specific conditions of the Baltic Sea and the long history of seafaring in the region.  Selling part of the cargo of the Champagne Schooner for commercial gain goes against several heritage conventions as well as the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) code of ethics.  While PADI has advocated a Look Don’t Touch approach to wreck diving, the plans by Aland sends a confusing message out to divers, and blurs the boundary of what is legal, illegal and/or inappropriate.  It is a surprising course of action given the lack of public interest in disposal of the artefacts, and little financial gain the museum could surely make from the sale. Let’s hope they change their mind.

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