121-25. License to conduct exploration, recovery or salvage operations.

(a) Any qualified person, firm or corporation desiring to conduct any type of exploration, recovery or salvage operations, in the course of which any part of a derelict vessel or its contents or other archaeological site may be removed, displaced or destroyed, shall first make application to the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and obtain a permit or license to conduct such operations. If the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources shall find that the granting of such permit or license is in the best interest of the State, it may grant such applicant a permit or license for such a period of time and under such conditions as the Department may deem to be in the best interest of the State. Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this section, such permit or license may include but need not be limited to any of the following:

(1) Payment of monetary fee to be set by the Department.

(2) That a portion or all of the historic material or artifacts be delivered to custody and possession of the Department.

(3) That a portion of all of such relics or artifacts may be sold or retained by the licensee.

(4) That a portion or all of such relics or artifacts may be sold or traded by the Department.

Permits or licenses may be renewed upon or prior to expiration upon such terms as the applicant and the Department may mutually agree. Holders of permits or licenses shall be responsible for obtaining permission of any federal agencies having jurisdiction, including the United States Coast Guard, the United States Department of the Navy and the United States Army Corps of Engineers prior to conducting any salvaging operations.

(b) All photographs, video recordings, or other documentary materials of a derelict vessel or shipwreck or its contents, relics, artifacts, or historic materials in the custody of any agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions shall be a public record pursuant to Chapter 132 of the General Statutes. (1967, c. 533, s. 4; 1973, c. 476, s. 48; 2005-367, s. 2; 2015-218, s. 4(a); 2015-241, s. 14.30(s); 2016-94, s. 16.2.)