Legislation regarding historic shipwrecks and other submerged cultural resources in state waters was first enacted in 1968. Originally intended to protect the interests of salvors on a Confederate blockade runner, the law has since evolved to better protect and manage submerged cultural resources in the interests of all the citizens of the state. Essentially, the current law seeks to protect and to promote the scientific, educational, and recreational benefits of South Carolina's underwater archaeological resources.
The Maritime Research Division acts as the administrator of the law, with assistance from the SC State Museum concerning fossils, and compliance by the SC Department of Natural Resources law enforcement and other agencies. MRD also acts in an advisory role with the State Historic Preservation Office regarding Federal legislation, such as the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987, and other applicable Federal and State laws concerning cultural resources. Links to the left provide access to the SC Underwater Antiquities Act of 1991 and other legal aspects of MRD's role in protecting and managing archaeological materials on state bottomlands.