Originally Posted by Chunk
Answer my own question (from https://www.gov.uk/wreck-and-salvage-law
Definition of wreck
According to section 255 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, the definition of wreck includes “jetsam, flotsam, lagan and derelict found in or on the shores of the sea or any tidal water”.
Jetsam, flotsam, lagan and derelict
Jetsam describes goods cast overboard to lighten a vessel in danger of sinking. The vessel may still perish.
Flotsam describes goods lost from a ship which has sunk or otherwise perished. Goods are recoverable because they remain afloat.
Lagan describes goods cast overboard from a ship which afterwards perishes. The goods are buoyed so they can be recovered.
Derelict describes property, whether vessel or cargo, which has been abandoned and deserted at sea by those who were in charge of it without any hope of recovering it.
If a boat comes off its moorings, it isn’t generally classified as a wreck for the purposes of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, as it hasn’t been abandoned without hope of recovery.
Also, buoys such as data buoys and mooring buoys aren’t classed as wreck. However, buoys which form part of fishing equipment may be classed as wreck when adrift.
Interesting one this, As I understand it & I could be wrong.
If you declare the pots to the Receiver, & she decides that they are wreck, it's her (last time I heard the Receiver was a woman & a very "officious" one at that
) responsibility to trace the owner. If the owner can be established, & he wants his pots back, you are entitled to the cost of salvage + an agreed value of the wreck (pots) If he doesn't want them back or is unwilling to pay, you can keep the pots. As divers, we had a few brushes with the R.O.W when she first swept into town, she started laying the law down, articles in Diver magazine & the like. There were a couple of high profile cases. She tried to prosecute a friend of mine for removing items from a wreck he owned, it got to the exchange of court papers before they dropped it. We started a campaign then of reporting EVERY little thing that we pick up from the seabed, unidentified bits of old iron, a door knob, crockery etc, she backed off eventually.
The other alternative is to return the pots to where you found them, in which case you'd probably get prosecuted for fly tipping by the local council
The pots could be classed as lost property & if the fisherman can prove they are his, it would only be fair to give them back.
You could keep them & tell him to report you for theft & let plod sort it, although up in your neck of the woods, local plod might be his brother or dad (or both
) & you might come off worst. You could argue that you were cleaning up the beaches of discarded fishing gear, plenty of that about.
In which case you probably couldn't justify not handing them (the pots) back.
Or you could just give the bloke his feckin pots back & hope that you don't get your trailer tyres slashed the next time you launch.