Under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 6, sections 179-180, and Chapter 91, section 63, the Board is charged with the responsibility of encouraging the discovery and reporting, as well as the preservation and protection, of underwater archaeological resources. Generally, those resources are defined as abandoned property, artifacts, treasure troves, and shipwrecks which have remained unclaimed for over 100 years, or exceed a value of $5,000, or are judged by the Board to be of historical value. The Commonwealth holds title to these resources and retains regulatory authority over their use. The Board's jurisdiction extends over the inland and coastal waters of the state.

No person may remove, displace, damage or destroy any underwater archaeological resource except in conformity with permits issued by the Board. Permit requirements and standards are outlined in the Board's Regulations (312 CMR 2.0-2.15) pdf format of BUAR Regulations