When 75 years or more has passed since the loss of a ship, its remains are classified as a ‘historic shipwreck’ under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1981, and the remains are protected from damage or interference, regardless of whether they have been discovered or not.
Some shipwrecks are considered to be so significant, or are at an increased risk of damage, that additional protection is necessary. In these cases, the Government may declare a Protected Zone around the shipwreck. Protected zones can be any size and shape up to a maximum of 100 hectares.
A permit is required to enter a protected zone with any type of vessel, or to conducting any type of underwater activity such as SCUBA diving.
Currently, three historic shipwrecks in South Australia have protected zones: