This collection of frequently asked questions (FAQ) provides brief answers to many common questions about FIPAD.

If you have any further questions, please contact us

What is the Fishing Industry Protocol for Archaeological Discoveries?

The Protocol is an easy way to report archaeological discoveries made whilst fishing at sea.

When did the Protocol start?

A pilot study took place in Sussex in 2012 and following on from its recommendations the post of Historic Environment Fisheries Liaison Officer (HEFLO) was created. The relaunch of the protocol took place in April 2016 with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Who will the Protocol affect?

All Sussex IFCA registered fishing boats. Sussex was identified as an area of suitable size and with a substantial and varied fishing community. Although the Protocol is voluntary, Sussex IFCA will encourage all its fishing vessels to integrate the Protocol into their operations.

Sussex IFCA presently has jurisdiction out to 6nm, but vessels operating out to the 24nm territorial limit are also encouraged to participate.

I recreationally fish in this area, should I report anything I find?

Yes, it would be helpful for our understanding if you report any finds made within the Sussex IFCA. If in doubt, please contact us.

I encounter many objects and obstructions whilst fishing. What objects are you talking about?

The Protocol is concerned with two main types of discovery:

  • Artefact: An object brought to the surface with your catch could indicate an archaeological site on the seabed. Anything from small worked flint to aircraft propellers.
  • Site: If your equipment snags on an obstruction on the seafloor you may have located an unknown wreck site

Items of modern litter, such as plastics and rubber, should not be reported via this Protocol. However, litter should continue to be monitored via the Marine Litter Protocol.

What makes a find “archaeological”? How do I know what to report?

Archaeology is the study of people in the past through what they leave behind. In the sea archaeological finds tend to come from one of three sources: ships and shipwrecks, crashed aircraft and submerged prehistory, such as stone tools. If in doubt, assume it is archaeological and report it via the Protocol.

You can find out more about the type of finds you may encounter from the handouts on our Resource pages.

I am a busy fisherman. What is the incentive for me to report archaeological discoveries?

Your discovery will be examined by an archaeologist after which you will be sent an archaeological report. If the find is significant, information about it will be sent to local and national heritage databases and you will be acknowledged as the Finder. Be aware that under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 all wreck finds should be reported to the Receiver of Wreck. We can generate the RoW report on your behalf that will need to be signed by the Finder, thereby taking care of your legal obligations. The Finder may even be entitled to a salvage award – this applies to both modern and historic material.

I already have a large collection of finds from my fishing operations. Are you interested in these?

Yes. Please report any finds you have made and the HEFLO with Wessex Archaeology will assess them as they would a new discovery.

Will I be able to keep the things I find?

In most cases, yes. However, as mentioned above, there is a legal requirement for all wreck finds to be reported to the Receiver of Wreck. This gives the legal owners the opportunity to recover their property and ensures that a salvage award is paid to the legal salvor, when due.

How should I report an archaeological discovery?

There are four main methods:

  • Telephone 0703 576792 and speak to the Historic Environment Fisheries Liaison Officer
  • Telephone 01722 326867 and ask for the “Fishing Protocol Team”
  • Use the Online Reporting Form at: www.fipad.org
  • Report your find through the FIPAD Contact at your landing port

Find out more on our Resource Pages.

Who is my FIPAD Contact?

There are a range of people in the fishing industry who have taken on this role.  Visit our FIPAD Contacts List webpage  to find out your local contacts.

What information do I need to tell you about my find?

When you report a find we will ask for a small amount of information. If you cannot answer all the questions, do not worry.

The most important information is

• Vessel’s PLN
• Date of discovery
• Description of find
• Original position of find on the seabed (if known)
• Position of vessel at time of discovery
• Photographs of find, let us know if you are not able to photograph it

Click here to visit the online report form, or download a paper version from our Resources page.

What do I do with the find?

Initially hold on to it.  Label the find with your vessel’s PLN number and the date to create a unique identification for that find.  If you discover several finds on the same day, add a number 1, 2, 3, to the identification e.g.  RX470 01042012 1

Keep the find wrapped up and in a dark, wet place. If you want more information ask your FIPAD Contact or the Fishing Protocol Team for advice on how to look after it.

I know of several wrecks where I regularly fish. If I report their positions will it mean I’ll be prohibited from fishing there?

No. Wrecks in UK waters can only be protected with an exclusion zone when certain stringent criteria have been met. Currently, there are c. 100 wrecks protected in the UK. Exclusion zones are usually very small areas (around 50m – 200m diameter) and most fishing vessels already avoid charted wrecks for their own safety.

I want to be involved in helping to develop the Protocol during the pilot period and have some ideas as to how it might work better. Who can I speak to?

Talk to the Historic Environment Fisheries Liaison Officer or the Fishing Protocol Team at Wessex Archaeology. We are currently consulting with representatives from the Sussex ports, Sussex IFCA and others. We would therefore appreciate your feedback and comments.