Page 21: of Marine News Magazine (August 2011)

Marine Salvage & Recovery Edition

Read this page in Pdf, Flash or Html5 edition of August 2011 Marine News Magazine The lack of clarity could result in delays or even prevent a timely salvage response to a recent vessel casualty that had the further misfortune of hav- ing occurred in a location where salvage efforts may arguably affect what someone believes to be UCH. There appears to be no room for propor- tionality except where that may be decided by a court or a panel of spe- cialists? set up for that purpose, and under the best of circumstances that might take until long after the salvage opportunity on the recent casualty has been lost. It gets worse ? with greater ambiguity. The UCH also provides that, any activity relating to UCH to which this Convention applies shall not be subject to the law of salvage or law of finds,? unless certain conditions are met over which the professional salvor may have no control. The term activity relating to UCH? appears to include activities incidentally affecting UCH,? now threatening to sus- pend the law of salvage based on three levels of ambiguity. How can this be so? Suspension of the law of salvage would put this treaty in conflict with both the 1989 Salvage Convention and UNCLOS, the latter of which specifically does not permit the salvors archaeological duty to affect appli- cation of the law of salvage. Furthermore, the law of marine salvage, which dates back more than 3000 years, is itself an important part of our cultural heritage that should not be trifled with by persons who must resort to lay- ers of ambiguity to find terms to which they can agree. COMMONSENSESOLUTIONS Before his death, the great salvage law scholar and author, Geoffrey Brice, drafted some very simple amendments to the 1989 Salvage Convention that would accomplish all the important points of the UCH Convention insofar as it relates to protecting and preserving UCH without the ambigu- ities that can get in the way. What is referred to as The Brice Protocol? is now under consideration by the Comité Maritime Internationale (CMI) for recommendation, with the idea of eliminating any need? for the UCH Convention. CMI has collected recommendations of maritime law associations from around the world, as well as others interested in the law of salvage, UNC- LOS, and international law generally, including the protection of UCH. For the reasons stated above and many more not stated because of space limitations, the professional salvage community should make itself heard on this subject. The UCH Convention is law for the 37 or so countries that have ratified it, but it can be changed, and it may be denounced by some countries that have already ratified. ? MN. Jim Shirley is a Master Mariner, a former salvage master and retired maritime lawyer who specializes in maritime casualty and salvage matters. He now serves as legal counsel to the American Salvage Association and as Principal Consultant in JTS Marine LLC. SALVAGE (Jim Shirley Column, continued from page 17)

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