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The green rules: Money & the environment go hand-in-hand in the maritime industry

Governments concerned about the threat of major spills and with vulnerable coastlines to protect are likely to turn increasingly to salvage retainers for added securi- ty, a leading marine lawyer recently forecast. In a recent address to delegates at a shipping conference, Senior Partner Archie Bishop of | H o 1 m a n , Fenwick & Willan said the fear of another spill catastrophe had already prompted more EU member states to retain salvage cover. He predicted that additional retainer contracts would be negotiated over the coming year.

In a reference to the Greenpeace action which led to abandonment of plans to dump the Brent Spar at sea, Mr. Bishop said: "This highly effective mobilization of consumer power has led to much soulsearching in the boardrooms of the multinationals. These are lessons that cannot be ignored.

"There can be no doubt that public attitudes, stimulated by those pressure groups seeking to police corporate behavior, will have a much greater influence in all sectors of the business world in the coming decade," he added.

He then warned, "Shipping industry executives would be unwise to believe that they have already passed through this phase," referring to the Valdez incident.

"Yet another catastrophic spill in a highly sensitive area could have consequences just as significant as that of OPA90, perhaps more so if governments take unilateral action.

This would mean a proliferation of rules with highly complex and differing requirements." Citing the public's hardening attitudes, Mr. Bishop said, "shipowners, insurers, and P&I Clubs certainly fear another catastrophic spill in sensitive waters." Mr. Bishop pointed to governmental programs now operating in partnership with salvors in South Africa, France, Spain and Italy. Noting that the new plans now guarantee salvage response to major casualties and spill threats in British and Dutch waters, he added, "there is every reason to believe that other EU countries will follow suit.

"Standby agreements, even in significantly increased numbers, are unlikely to demand the commitment of more than a small proportion of total salvage capacity.

Most salvage vessels will remain free of tie and available to respond to casualties anywhere in the world. This is of importance to those nations unable to afford retained protection."

 
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