The Portuguese archipelago of the Azores has received UNESCO recognition for its ‘best practices’ in protecting underwater cultural heritage.
The autonomous territory in the mid-Atlantic is among five projects that have been added to the Best Practices Register.
In so doing, the Paris-based UN educational and scientific body commits itself to “promoting concrete and directly-applicable solutions for the protection of underwater heritage”.
Director general Audrey Azoulay called “on all states and stakeholders concerned to draw inspiration from the projects “to amplify the drive to protect remains which bear the memory of our human history”.
The Azores project centres on 30 wrecks and other historic discoveries which the archipelago believes could yield up to €35 million per year in various forms of tourism (diving, particularly).
But most importantly, the recognition will reduce threats from ‘treasure hunters’.
The UN Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage was adopted in 2001 and aims to provide better protection for millions of wrecks and historic remains preserved on the seabed, and “halt looting and increasing destruction”, explain reports.
The other sites awarded UNESCO recognition alongside the Azores are in France, Spain, Slovenia and Mexico.