|Places of RefugeInternational Maritime Organization|
|Origins of the Issue of Places of Refuge|
|In response to the Erika incident of December 1999. the need to review the issues surrounding places of refuge was included in a list of measures drawn at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) aimed at enhancing safety and minimizing the risk of oil pollution, drawn up in December 2000
Further urgency to the work came in the aftermath of the incident involving the fully laden tanker Castor which, in December 2000, developed a structural problem in the Mediterranean Sea.
The ship was towed around the Mediterranean for over a month before a place could be found where a successful lightering operation could be carried out.
In early 2001, the then IMO Secretary-General Mr. William O'Neil determined that the time had come for IMO to undertake, as a matter of priority, a global consideration of this problem and to adopt whatever measures might be required to ensure that ships in distress would be provided with appropriate assistance and facilities as dictated by the circumstances.
The November 2001 sinking of the Prestige further highlighted the issue.|
|Action on Places of Refuge|
|The notion of providing refuge for ships in distress was raised at IMO during the late 1980s, when the Legal Committee was considering the draft provisions of the International Convention on Salvage eventually adopted in 1989. At the time, it was suggested that there should be an obligation on States to admit vessels in distress into their ports. Although this was endorsed by some delegations, others expressed doubt on the desirability of including such a "public law" rule in a private law convention. It was also pointed out that the interests of coastal States would need to be duly taken into account in any such provision. Doubt was also expressed whether such a provision would in fact affect the decisions of the authorities of coastal States in specific cases. |
As a result, Article 11 of the Salvage Convention , as eventually adopted, reads: "A State Party shall, whenever regulating or deciding upon matters relating to salvage operations such as admittance to ports of vessels in distress or the provisions of facilities to salvors, take into account the need for co-operation between salvors, other interested parties and public authorities in order to ensure the efficient and successful performance of salvage operations for the purpose of saving life or property in danger as well as preventing damage to the environment in general."
printed on 2013/05/24 15:14:57