Burial at sea: essential information

Why, when burial at sea is recognised as one the greenest types of funerals available, today, does take-up for eco-friendly endings to life remain so remarkably low? A closer look at the complexity of organising such a funeral ceremony and the myriad additional issues involved, before burial at sea can take place, go some way towards providing an answer.

However, in situations where a sea burial is deemed the most appropriate form of farewell, those organising the funeral should not be deterred.

Organising a sea burial: essential information summarised

Essential information on how to arrange a sea burial is outlined, below:

Legal requirements

A licence is required to bury someone at sea. For details on how to obtain this licence, please visit the Marine Management Organisation website link at: http://marinemanagement.org.uk/works/controls/burial_how.htm.

Other paperwork & documentation

Apart from the Death Certificate itself, certain documents are also required in order to obtain a licence for burial at sea, e.g. a Certificate of Freedom from Fever and Infection (available from the deceased’s GP or most recent doctor); a Notice of Intention to Remove a Body out of England (obtained from the Coroner) issued in exchange for a Certificate of Disposal (authorised by the Registrar of Deaths).

Scattering ashes at sea

Unlike for sea burials, no licence is required for the disposal of cremated remains, at sea. However, practical guidelines suggest that the ashes should be scattered in such a way as to protect the natural marine environment and to minimise distress to relatives, friends and any other individuals concerned. For example, it is advisable to place the ashes in a biodegradable container and deposit them in the sea, at no less than 3 nautical miles from land.

Designated UK sea burial sites

Sea burials are only permitted in two British coastal regions, namely off the coasts of East Sussex (between Hastings and Newhaven) and the Isle of Wight (off The Needles).

Practical considerations

Coffins should be designed to meet strict criteria, e.g. the coffin must be able to withstand the impact of the waves when being cast into the sea and also be sufficiently weighted to descend to the sea bed. For caskets containing cremated ashes, the container needs to be suitably heavy to allow it to sink and preferably have holes in it to let the sea water permeate.

Costs for sea burial

Burying someone at sea can cost up to twice as much as for an average funeral, with estimates currently at around the £4,000 mark. Please do bear in mind that extra costs have to be factored in such as chartering a boat, etc. http://marinemanagement.org.uk/works/controls/burial_conditions.htm