10 U. Bridgeport L. Rev. 361 (1989-1990)
The Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987 Navigating Turbulant Constitutional Waters

handle is hein.journals/qlr10 and id is 371 raw text is: NOTES
THE ABANDONED SHIPWRECK ACT OF 1987. NAVIGATING
TURBULANT CONSTITUTIONAL WATERS?
I. INTRODUCTION
On April 28, 1988, Congress passed the Abandoned Shipwreck
Act of 1987, which was designed to clarify states' rights in regu-
lating the preservation of historic shipwrecks within their terri-
torial waters.1 Although the salvage of wrecks had traditionally
been governed by federal admiralty law,2 several states had
passed individual legislation dealing with the preservation of
wrecks, including regulation of underwater salvage activities.' By
bringing these activities under state control, state law was in a
position to challenge traditional admiralty principles. Conflicts
developed in the federal courts when salvors attempted to inval-
idate state laws by showing that federal admiralty law should
control in salvage cases. This Note will outline the language of
the Act, the background for its creation, the admiralty traditions
governing salvage, and some constitutional problems with the
existing state legislation and the Act itself. In addition, this
Note will propose legislation that could be drafted by either
1. 43 U.S.C.A. §§1201-1206 (West. Supp. 1988). The Abandoned Shipwreck Act was
enacted as PUB. L. No. 100-298, 102 Stat. 432-35.
2. U.S. CONST. art. III, § 2. Admiralty law was designated as federal by the Framers
of the Constitution, and codified by Congress in Title 28 of the UNITED STATES CODE, 28
U.S.C. § 1333 (1982). Title 28 states that in admiralty, maritime and prize cases, the
District Courts shall have original jurisdiction, exclusive of the states in any civil cases of
admiralty. Id.
3. See infra notes 121-27 and accompanying text for a discussion of state legisla-
tion regarding abandoned shipwrecks.
4. See infra notes 212-32 and accompanying text for a discussion of court decisions
regarding the jurisdiction of admiralty claims.

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