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Old 22 July 2004, 19:37   #1
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Salvage Rules

Hello guys,

Can anyone tell me what the rules regarding salvage are? And whether they apply internationally or not?

I quite regularly pass through a stretch of water in the harbour here (its a big harbour) and while diving last month I came across a small anchor and length of chain/warp on the seabed in only about twenty feet of water. It clearly hadn't been there very long as there was no growth on it.

I am taking the boat out again tomorrow... and will pass over the same area. Should the anchor and chain be there still am I

a) legally and

b) morally

OK to take it? What do we think?
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Old 23 July 2004, 03:35   #2
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Edward
I can't give you an exact answer on this as my memeory on this is fuzzy.
In UK I think the legal position would be to record where it was and inform the local reciever of wrecks and follow what they tell you, probbalby to hand it over and if no one claims it etc.
Have a word with the local marine police or customs or coastguard they will be able to tell you the score.
Sorry for not being definative but I can saw exactly.
James
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Old 23 July 2004, 03:39   #3
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if its not attached to a buoy or float then its abandoned and finders keepers
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Old 23 July 2004, 03:53   #4
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Go for it, you are clearing up the see bed after all!
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Old 23 July 2004, 04:01   #5
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There have been a few threads in the past about salvage rights and the rules and from memory its not as simple as if its abandoned its mine, i think if you find a vessel afloat then the salvage rights entitle you as the finder or salvour to a percentage of the insured value, so if its a small boat you wont legally be entitled to very much, however if its a container ferry then the insured percentage could be a lot of money, one thing to remember though is that you as the salvour foot the bill for the recovery not the owner or insurance company, therefore towing a damaged or abandoned sib in would be no problem but a container ship on the other hand is a different matter.

In this case if the anchor has nothing marking it on the surface and its still there then finders keepers, my current anchor and 10 metres of chain came out of a burned out fishing dingy the fire brigade had dragged into the car park at hernia bay, the harbour master and a police man helped me break it loose from the wreckage after i found out that 2 fisherman had been eying it up for themselves but were waiting for the authorities to disapear before raiding the wreck, i on the other hand have no morals.... the police man told me as he was helping me raid the dingy that they were actually waiting for a flat bed to arrive to take the thing off to a breakers as the owner had now disowned the boat.
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Old 23 July 2004, 06:10   #6
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The Receiver of Wreck is Sophia Exelby - Sophia_Exelby@mcga.gov.uk

I pointed her at this tread this morning, and so you may have an answer from her later today.

Also for info Sophia, is happy to come and talk to clubs about this whole area as part of her awareness campaign. I requested she spoke to our dive club earlier in the year and she gave a very interesting lecture.
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Old 23 July 2004, 06:12   #7
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Ah Edward ... sorry just noticed you are not in the UK. Sophia is the UK authority, but she does know about international law also.
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Old 23 July 2004, 08:32   #8
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This text is from Sophia ...


Thanks for this. I do not profess to be an expert in Australian wreck law, but to the best of my knowledge Australia is a signatory to the International Convention on Salvage 1989. The provisions of the Salvage Convention will probably have been incorporated into national legislation (in the same way that it is incorporated in the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 in the UK). Effectively this means that salvage of wrecks is possible unless they are protected by some other legislation. I know that the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 in Australia protects wrecks which are over 75 years in age.

The first question I would ask, if it were in the UK, would be whether the item in question can be defined as 'wreck'. I do not know how 'wreck' is defined in Austrialia, but in this country an anchor which has been deployed and subsequently lost or abandoned would not be considered wreck, as there has been no wrecking incident, rather it would be 'lost property' and would probably be a police matter. If the anchor on the other hand is associated with a wreck on the seabed, then it would be considered wreck. I suggest that if it is in a harbour the first port of call should be the Harbour Master or Port Authority, as they might have been informed of the loss of an anchor, and may be aware of the owner. They can probably also advise on the relevant legislation.

Regards,

Sophia Exelby
Receiver of Wreck
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Old 23 July 2004, 11:23   #9
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Here is what I understand to be the law, which I have no doubt is wrong..



1) If the owner has abandoned his/her vessel without consideration for what happens to it then he who finds it can have it. Two examples are a RIB abandoned between UK and Belgium a few years ago and the RNLI who rescued a yacht about 20 years ago ( rescued the yacht crew and then towed it back to port. When the owner said thanks the crew said hands off our boat )



2) If you assist in a rescue and the owner refuses to offer you money which you believe is suitable then a court of law can decide in how much danger the vessel was, i.e. if its about to hit the rocks you might get 100% of the value or if its just floating on a sunny day then its just fuel money

Cheers

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Old 23 July 2004, 17:14   #10
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As quoted directly from the MCA websit

GUIDANCE FOR SALVORS

As with law relating to wreck, there are three main Acts which cover salvage. These are the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 and the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986. In simple terms, the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 and the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 detail what salvors canít do, and the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 covers what salvors can or must do.

Merchant Shipping Act 1995

The key issue for salvors is that under UK law, all wrecked vessels are presumed to have an owner. This may be an individual, an insurance company or underwriters. Therefore, the first thing an intending salvor should do, is make every effort to trace the owner, with a view to obtaining his or her permission before recovering the hull, fittings or items of cargo.

Intending salvors are also advised to notify the appropriate authorities before commencing salvage operations.

Where wreck has lain on the seabed apparently abandoned for many years, persons will normally be entitled to dive, locate the vessel and recover such parts of the vessel or contents as they can. This is subject to due observation of the rights which may have accrued to other salvors by virtue of prior possession.

Under the provision of section 236 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, all items of wreck found within or brought within UK territorial waters (12-mile limit) must be reported to the Receiver of Wreck. Even if ownership can be proved, the salvor is still required to notify the Receiver of the recovery.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE SALVAGED WRECK?

If the wreck was recovered from within UK territorial waters and no owner establishes a claim to the property within one year of it being reported to the Receiver, then it generally becomes property of the Crown and is disposed of at the discretion of the Receiver of Wreck through sale or auction, or offered to the salvor in lieu of salvage.

The Receiver is required to notify Lloyds of recovered property considered to be in excess of the value of £5000.



Legitimate salvors have rights of salvage. This is based on the value of the salved property. Other factors are also taken into account when determining salvage, these include the skills and efforts of the salvor, the nature and degree of danger and the measure of success obtained by the salvor

The Crown makes no claim on wreck found outside UK territorial waters and if no owner has come forward by the end of the statutory one-year period, the property is returned to the salvor.

The Receiver of Wreck will expect to recover any expenses accrued, for example, removal and storage costs, or obtaining valuations of the salved property. After any expenses are deducted, the proceeds of the sale are disposed of in the same way as if the property had remained unsold.

If the salvor can prove title to the material recovered, customs duty and/or tax may be due.

WRECK LAW
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