Page 24: of Marine News Magazine (August 2012)

Salvage & Recovery

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unrecovered treasure or other property because that property is not before it. However, the court?s injunction will protect the salvor from losing some portion of his trove to others whether or not he is on site, so long as he acts suf ciently to maintain his status of ? rst salvor? or ?salvor in possession.? That is, although the court cannot make an award of or against the unrecovered treasure, by means of its constructive in rem jurisdiction it does maintain some control over that property suf cient to protect the ? rst salvor? from recovery actions by interlopers. The primary justi cation for the court exercising this extra- territorial jurisdiction in international waters is that it is necessary to preserve wrecks of historical signi cance from plunderers, protect the rights of the  rst salvor, and to encourage salvage operations that will return lost property to economic usefulness. TREATIES AND LEGISLATION This column addressed the euphemistically named ?UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage? in the August 2011 issue of this magazine. The primary thrust of that article was, however, directed at the ambiguities in the language of the treaty and its unintended consequences with respect to its impact on traditional salvage operations. Unfortunately, there will be unintended consequences on treasure salvage as well. They will likely be less devastating because they will simply discourage investment in recovery operations, thereby satisfying one of the treaty?s stated purposes. That may prevent inde nitely many recovery efforts, resulting in many sunken vessels and their contents eventually giving way fully to the environmental perils of the sea. The problem is, one will never know what has been lost to mankind because of this. For this column, it is enough to say that most countries, including the United States, already have laws protecting vessels and sunken treasure and artifacts lying within their territorial waters. The UNESCO Convention just takes that ?protection? into international waters for signatory nations. The signature legislation on this subject in the United States is the LEGAL24 MNAugust 2012

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