This is an extract from https://digital.lib.washington.edu/d...pdf?sequence=1
From this I understand you have a legal obligation to provide assistance at sea (whatever sea is). What form this assistance takes will vary depending on circumstances.
If you see a jet skier in trouble my understanding is that if you take them onboard they have abandoned their vessel which is then available for salvage. See Law of salvage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
however I don't believe a jet ski in a harbour would be covered by this but would be in an open sea. Probably best to get them on board then ask if they want you to take them to the nearest point of safety for free or somewhere else for costs and by the way do you do they also want you to take their vessel in tow.
II. INTERNATIONAL SOURCES OF THE OBLIGATION TO ASSIST
Three international conventions impose a duty to provide assistance to
those in distress at sea. First, and most significant given the number of
countries that are party to it, is the Safety of Life at Sea Convention
(SOLAS), Ch. V, Regulation 10(a),8 which provides:
The master of a ship at sea which is in a position to be able to
provide assistance, on receiving a signal from any source that
persons are in distress at sea, is bound to proceed with all speed
to their assistance, if possible informing them or the search and
rescue service that the ship is doing so.
As of August 15, 2002, 146 countries had adopted SOLAS, 9 including all
major flag of convenience countries.10
Regulation 10(a) purports to impose an obligation directly on the
shipmaster. However, in some countries, treaty provisions do not have
direct effect and so must be implemented by legislation.1 Some countries
that are parties to SOLAS may not have passed implementing legislation,'
and others may have implemented the obligation in a different form than it
appears in Regulation 10(a). Even in countries such as the United States,
7 The International Maritime Organization is conducting a review of international conventions with
the goal of ensuring that persons in distress at sea or other emergency situations are "promptly and
effectively delivered to a place of safety, regardless of their nationality and status or the circumstances in
which they are found." Tampa Incident Prompts Review of Refugee and Asylum Issues, IMO NEWS, Issue
4 2001, at 6. The I.M.O. response is considered by Frederick J. Kenney, Jr., & Vasilios Tasikas, The Tampa Incident. IMO Perspectives and Responses on the Treatment of Persons Rescued at Sea, 12 Pac.
Rim L. & Pol'y J. 143 (2003).
8 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, Nov. 1, 1974, 32 U.S.T. 47, T.I.A.S. No.
9700, 164 U.N.T.S. 113 as amended (entered into force May 25, 1980) [hereinafter SOLAS], reprinted in
6D BENEDICT, supra note 3, Doc. No. 14-1.
9 Summary of Status of Conventions,
(last visited Nov. 2, 2002) [hereinafter
Status of IMO Conventions].
1o All seven major flag of convenience countries (see supra note 2) are parties to SOLAS. Status of
Conventions-Complete List, at http://www.imo.org/Conventions/mainframe.asp?topic
id=248 (last visited
Nov. 3, 2002).
11 Australia is an example. See infra note 128 and accompanying text.
12 Australia appears to be an example of this, too. See infra notes 130-132 and accompanying text.
Where treaties can have direct effect,' 3 Regulation 10(a) may require
implementing legislation. 14
Another treaty provision relating to the duty to assist is found in the
U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Article 98(l), 1" which
Every state shall require the master of a ship flying its flag, in
so far as he can do so without serious danger to the ship, the
crew or the passengers ... to render assistance to any person
found at sea in danger of being lost ... and to proceed with all
possible speed to the rescue of persons in distress, if informed
of their need for assistance, in so far as such action may
reasonably be expected of him.' 6
As of May 31, 2002, 138 countries had adopted UNCLOS, 17 including all
major flag of convenience countries except Liberia.18
Even in countries where treaties can have direct effect, 19 Article 98(1)
requires implementing legislation in order to acquire the force of law,
because it is addressed to states, not individuals.20 As noted above, some
countries that are party to UNCLOS may not have yet passed implementing
!eg.risatinn, despite their treaty obligation to do so.
Thirdly, the International Convention on Salvage 1989 ("Salvage
1. Every master is bound, so far as he can do so without
serious danger to his vessel and persons thereon, to render
assistance to any person in danger of being lost at sea.
2. The States Parties shall adopt the measures necessary to
enforce the duty set out in paragraph 1.
3. The owner of the vessel shall incur no liability for a
breach of the duty of the master under paragraph 1.21
As of July 30, 2002, forty countries had adopted the Salvage
Convention.22 The duty to render assistance under Article 10.1 of the
Salvage Convention cannot exist when the ship encounters a person in
danger of being lost at sea. The Convention only applies when "judicial or
arbitral proceedings relating to matters dealt with in this Convention are
brought in a State Party., 23 If the duty to render assistance does exist, it
exists only in inchoate form. For example, if a salvage arbitration or lawsuit
is subsequently brought in a Salvage Convention country, the application of
that country's implementation of the obligation is subsequently confirmed.
If no salvage proceedings are brought, the Salvage Convention never comes
into operation in relation to the incident. Thus, in many cases of ships
encountering refugees or asylum seekers needing assistance at sea, the duty
to assist under the Salvage Convention would not be applicable.