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As active managers and owners of the majority of the seabed in the UK, The Crown Estate supports and launched the Marine Antiquities Scheme (MAS) to help secure the future of the UK’s marine heritage, whilst also supporting responsible and sustainable development of the marine environment over the long-term. Every year, interesting objects and sites are discovered by divers, fishermen, boat operators and coastal visitors. The aim of the MAS is to help record and protect the nation’s marine heritage by encouraging the recording of archaeological and historical objects found by marine users in English, Welsh and Northern Irish waters.

Central to the voluntary recording system is an easy-to-use smartphone app that includes instructions on the statutory obligations to which finders need to adhere. Users benefit from the knowledge of a support team of archaeological experts based at Wessex Archaeology, who research and identify each find. Leading a new era of publicly driven, marine environment data sharing, the MAS publishes a database for free and open access to the most up-to-date information for view or study.

The MAS is being considered by the Scottish government for rollout into Scottish waters in the near future.