News release

Changes to Treasure Hunting Regulations Introduced

Ownership of Nova Scotia's underwater cultural and heritage resources will be more secure as government introduces legislation today, Nov. 2, to repeal the Treasure Trove Act, amend the Special Places Protection Act and create the Oak Island Treasure Act.

The repeal of the Treasure Trove Act will bring the province in line with other Canadian provinces and the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. The Special Places Protection Act will be amended to remove references to treasure. The Oak Island Treasure Act will be created to allow for regulated treasure hunting on the island.

"People are concerned that our artifacts and cultural heritage are being exploited for commercial gain," said John MacDonell, Minister of Natural Resources. "These legislative changes will help keep material from future excavations in Nova Scotia."

The Treasure Trove Act was created in 1954 to govern treasure hunting activities on Oak Island but eventually expanded to cover licensing of treasure hunting involving shipwrecks off Nova Scotia's coast.

"Artifacts in shipwrecks along our coast belong to Nova Scotia," said Percy Paris, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. "We've reviewed research and best practices and will act to protect that history for the benefit of Nova Scotians."

The repeal of the Treasure Trove Act was recommended by the 2006 Voluntary Planning heritage strategy task force.

Some treasure hunting licences were granted this summer to applicants who met policy guidelines for treasure hunting at that time. Their activities will expire Dec. 31. However, licences for treasure hunting on Oak Island will be continued.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Ownership of Nova Scotia's underwater cultural and heritage resources will be more secure as government introduces legislation today (November 2nd) to repeal the Treasure Trove Act, amend the Special Places Protection Act and create the Oak Island Treasure Act.

Natural Resources Minister John MacDonell says Nova Scotians are concerned that artifacts and cultural heritage are being exploited for commercial gain and changes to the legislation will help keep material from future excavations.

Tourism, Culture and Heritage Minister Percy Paris says that artifacts in shipwrecks along the coast belong to Nova Scotia and that government will act to protect that history.

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Media Contacts:

David Salter
Natural Resources 902-424-5239 E-mail:
Kyla Friel
Tourism, Culture and Heritage 902-471-4128 E-mail: