The Executive Council of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has given approval to the University of Connecticut and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology of the United States to salvage shipwrecks on the seabed of the Scarborough Harbour that have been there for more than four centuries.
The project was agreed upon at the weekly meeting of the Council, chief secretary Orville London announced at a media briefing. He said an underwater search will be launched in the third quarter of this year for 12 Dutch ships sunk during fierce battles for the island.
London said the project will be undertaken at no cost to the Assembly and all artefacts retrieved from the seabed will remain in Tobago. The project is being funded by National Geographic as well as non governmental organisations in the United States.
London said the project will yield many benefits for the island by way of publicity via a variety of media outlets and an opportunity to educate the public on the values of conservation and the study of various cultural sources. "Imagine a cruise ship docking and dive enthusiasts can actually have a dive just a couple metres away. It is the only site in the world where you have a dozen or more ships that have been down at the bottom of the ocean for over four centuries," he said.
Earlier this month, London met the US Ambassador Beatrice Welters to discuss proposals submitted by the university. He said the Assembly is pleased to collaborate with the university, the institute and Texas ANM University since this particular activity benefit Tobago in research and dive tourism.