Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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(Courtesy NOAA)

Historic shipwrecks all over the world are severely damaged by bottom trawling, a fishing method that involves hauling huge nets across the ocean floor. In the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, nearly all known shipwrecks have been damaged by fishing, including the coal schooner Paul Palmer, which sank in 1913 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Not only does the initial impact of trawl gear damage the vessels, but the nets can become entangled with the sites, making it dangerous for archaeologists to work there. Federal officials are considering a proposal to create a heritage preserve around certain shipwrecks to prevent damage from fishing.

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