The 1989 Salvage Convention and the protection
of the environment – should the actual compromise continue?
Assistant professor Oana ADSCLIEI1
The salvage la w r egime is mainly set forth in the 1989 Salvage Convention tha t is
complemented by a ser ies of private initiatives of the salvage industry. The most discussed
issue from the point of view of amending the a ctual interna tional regula tion is whether the
salvage operations are in fact able to protect the environment. The salvage industry ha s
initiated proposals in ord er to amend the 1989 Salvage Convention. In this context, it is
important to bear in mind that no other internationa l mar itime salvage convention ha s
previously taken into considera tion the problem of the protection of the environment. F rom
this perspective the a ctual regulation represents a fundamental change. Alongside with
traditiona l subjects of salvage, protectio n of the environment was recognized by the 1989
Salvage Convention not as a n independent subject but related to the salvage of the ship and
its carg oes. Two articles, na mely Article 13 (b) which refers to an “enhanced award for the
salvor” and respectively, Article 14 deemed as “a safety net” were special designed to
encoura ge the salvor to intervene in circumstances where damages to environment occur s.
The Salvage Industry has advanced a proposal for the Convention’s revision meant to reflect
in a more adequa te way the importance of the salvage services’ contribution to the
environmental protection. It is often reminded that this Convention is a result of the so called
“Montreal Compromise” agreed by the Comite Maritime International in 1981, which has
bala nced the interests of all actors involved in the maritime salvage. Starting from this
aspect, the purpose of the hereby paper is to analyze the Convention’s text parallel to
proposa ls for its revision.
Keywords: envinronmental salvage; damage to the environment; the sa fety net; SCOPIC
clause; the 1989 salvage convention.
JEL Classification: K 32; K 33
The actual legal provisions relating to salvage were set out in the 1989
Salvage Convention, being the direct resultant of marine pollution casualties with a
huge impact on environment such as Amoco Cadiz or Torey Canyon2. The basis of
the Convention is represented by “Montreal Compromise”, a package of carefully
negotiated measures, by means of which ship owners and cargo owners have
accepted to increase their liability in order to prevent pollution3. This solution was
1 Oana Adscliei - Constanta Maritime University, Romania, firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 Hurst, Hugh, Amending the Salvage Convention 1989 – The International Group of P&I Clubs’ view,
in „Comite Maritime International Yearbook” 2010 Annuaire, p. 500.
3 Khosla, Kiran, Salvage Convention review – Salvors’ proposals for environmental salvage a war d, in
„Comite Maritime International Yearbook” 2013 Annuaire, p. 259.