Cape Verde wants to look for shipwrecks in the islands of Maio and Boa Vista

Cape Verde wants to look for shipwrecks in the islands of Maio and Boa Vista

Propection works on the underwater heritage in Cape Verde will be extended to the islands of Maio and Boa Vista, announced the minister of Culture and Creative Industries, Abraão Vicente, who admits to the opening of a thematic museum.

According to the official authority, who informed parliament members at the first parliamentary session of 2020, taking place in the National Assembly since last Wednesday, these prospection works, under the CONCHA underwater archeology project, involving UNESCO, were concentrated essentially in Cidade Velha, on the island of Santiago.

"We believe that under water lies our greatest wealth and major traces of the strategic role that Cape Verde has played in the discovery and construction of the new world", Abraão Vicente told MPs on Wednesday.

The minister explained that "not only Cidade Velha", the first capital of Cape Verde, present-day Ribeira Grande de Santiago county, but also the islands of "Boa Vista and Maio are on the archaeological map, as the three main points of future exploration".

"Therefore, in addition to the mapping already done by the Government, through the IPC [Cultural Heritage Institute], through the CONCHA project, in Ribeira Grande bay, the natural extension will be the island of Maio and right after Boa Vista", said Abraão Vincente.

He further stated that in addition to the prospects, Maio island may receive, in the future, a museum "linked to the underwater heritage nearby", since that island was stage, such as Cidade Velha and Boa Vista, of various shipwrecks during the colonial period.

For this process, Cape Verde's Government already has the support of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for the training of four more Cape Verdean technicians, "for research and underwater exploration ".

"It is absolutely fascinating what we are discovering underwater and that is why Cape Verde recently signed the UNESCO Underwater Heritage Convention, also to send a signal", said Abraão Vicente.

Alone, the Portuguese-German company Arqueonautas Worldwide, that kept a contract with the Cape Verdean Government for the recovery of wrecks in the Cape Verde Sea between 1995 and 2002, discovered and reported to the authorities, during the contract's time frame, close to 90 contemporary and historical wrecks in the country's territorial waters, stated the company in April 2019.

At the same time, the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (UNL) researcher and IPC technical and scientific consultant, Alexandre Monteiro, warned that these vessels are being looted sporadically by citizens, divers and fishermen in a true "treasure hunt".

Preaviously, the Cape Verdean Minister of Culture and Creative Industries revealed that he has received a dozen requests from companies looking to explore wrecks in Cape Verde, but that will only happen when the new legislation comes into force, protecting these treasures.

"We want to configure the whole legal framework before making any concession, ensuring that in all the vessels that make this exploration, the National Police, Judicial Police and Maritime Police are present, in order to ensure that all assets recovered in Cape Verdean territorial waters return to Cape Verdean territory, which is not the case now", he said.

"But we do not have the legal security to prevent situations like what happened to the golden astrolabe that was auctioned in London without our knowledge or benefit, from repeating" said Abraão Vicente, in 2019.