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International Salvage Union Members Meet To Discuss Industry Segment's Future

International Salvage Union (ISU) member companies meeting in Hong Kong have agreed to endorse proposals which would strengthen marine emergency response services worldwide.

Conclusions of a major industry study, performed for the Salvage Working Group, a joint industry body representing shipowners, insurers and salvors, should dictate the posture ISU members will take with policy makers.

"Our first priority will be to examine and discuss the final conclusions of the Salvage Working Group," said ISU president, Klaas J. Reinigert of Smit Tak, The Netherlands. "We will then seek further talks with shipowners and insurers, to develop a more detailed joint policy on the future of salvage. This j oint industry view can then be communicated to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the European Community (EC) and individual governments." "In the case of the IMO, we will take account of Resolution 8 of the Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation Convention, which is concerned with improving salvage services," Mr.

Reinigert continued. "As for the EC, the industry will respond to the long-awaited report on the European Commission investigation of salvage resources and needs in the European Region." In addition, ISU members agreed to brief the IMO, the European Commission and individual governments on the gaps in salvage cover identified in the Salvage Working Group study.

The ISU's American members have already held discussions with the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Research Council and other authorities, stressing the importance of the salvor's role in preventing pollution. "The lack of adequate salvage emphasis is seen as a major weakness in the extensive pollution control arrangements established under the U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA90)," said Mr. Reinigert. "This gap in salvage needs to be bridged. It is encouraging to note that the U.S. authorities have recently launched a major investigation of salvage resources in U.S. waters." ISU members also discussed the implications of a recent salvage case, carried out under Lloyd's Open Form (LOF) 90, in which special compensation for pollution-related services has been denied due to the position of the casualty. Under the new Salvage Convention and LOF 90, the availability of special compensation is restricted to coastal and inshore waters and "areas adjacent thereto." LOF 80 does not impose such a geographical limit and is preferred to LOF 90 whenever any oil tanker threatens pollution outside coastal waters. However, its safety net system is limited to oil tankers.

Therefore, as matters stand, LOF 80 and LOF 90 provide no incentive to respond to a serious chemical pollution threat outside coastal waters.

"This situation is really unacceptable," said Mr. Reinigert. "It is completely contrary to the spirit of the new Salvage Convention and today's more intense focus towards protection of the environment." Some preliminary conclusions of the independent survey of the international salvage industry previously mentioned indicate the salvage industry has some serious catchingup to do (source: International Salvage Union Bulletin).

Among the survey's findings are that the salvage industry is in serious decline. This is, in part, due to the decline in the incidence of marine casualties during the 1980's, yet it is believed that the amount of salvage coverage fell faster than the level of demand.

While, during the 1980's, improved navigation equipment and a host of other factors have helped reduce the number of marine casualties due to collision, contact, stranding and fire or explosion, it is reported that the growing age of the world fleet could spark casualty numbers to new highs as soon as 1996.

The survey found that in 1989- 90, vessels aged 15 years or more accounted for approximately 50 percent of all recorded serious casualf l 2J ^ \< H f A o H lib. Klaas J. Reinigert ties. The casualty rate for the oldest vessels was particularly high. The survey also predicts, based on current information available, that the proportion of the world fleet aged 15 years or more will jump from 54 percent in 1991 to 62 percent in 1996, and very old tonnage, 25 years older and more, increasing from 20 to 27 percent over the same period. So the survey's early conclusions suggest that the aging world fleet and human factor will lead to an increased number of ship casualties each year, thus the demand for salvage services will likely be higher in the 1990's than it was in the 1980's Membership of the ISU is comprised of marine salvage contractors who have a record of successful salvage, demonstrating a high level of expertise, and who meet the standards expected of a professional salvor.

Currently there are 39 members of the ISU, based in 27 countries and operating worldwide.

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