International Salvage Union President, Andreas Tsavliris outlines the priorities of his Presidency as well as the challenges of the salvage business, in an exclusive interview with The Shipping Herald. Mr. Tsavliris also speaks of the need to safeguard the environment and gives his views on salvage services in Greece.
Congratulations on being appointed ISU President. What will the priorities of your presidency be and which issues will you be examining first?
Salvage is an industry like most which encounters various challenges and difficulties; these are something that Andreas Tsavliris will be addressing during his term as President of the ISU with the members of the Executive Committee. These challenges include:
· recognition of work/efforts of professional salvors
· exemption of seafarers from criminalization
· granting responder immunity
· designated places of refuge
· proliferation of government intervention
· inhospitable/ hostile coastal states
· pleading sovereign immunity
· clientele defaults/ payment delays
· salvage rewards being increased
· encouraging wreck removal projects
· developing the best practices for marine casualty management
· an updated salvage convention
· the imposition of mandatory insurance
· cancelling salvors unlimited liability
· marine insurers negative stance
· salvage securities – difficulties in collecting
· collapse in ship/ cargo values
· granting environmental & liability salvage awards
What are your plans for safeguarding the environment and defending against pollution?
Salvors are the first line of defence and have long played an important role in preventing and, where this is not possible, limiting accident-generated pollution – major spills result in catastrophic economic and environmental damage.
Environmental salvage is a topic which the ISU is strongly supporting as they believe the environmental benefit conferred by salvage services should be fully recognized. Andreas Tsavliris will tackle this carefully, presenting the salvors case and discussing with the P&I Clubs in the hope of moving the issue forward. Mr. Tsavliris will be attending the CMI Conference in Shanghai, China to discuss this subject matter in 2012.
Do you feel enough is being done by the shipping industry to shield the environment from disasters? Are current regulations and maritime policies adequate enough to protect the marine environment? How can preventive measures be re-enforced?
Increasing regulations does not necessarily mean helpful added value. One can always improve on procedures to avert / avoid pollution. Much has already been achieved – pollution incidents are less than they used to be.
Looking at the ISU annual Pollution Prevention Survey results for 2010, the results show a significant decrease in the tonnages of pollutants salved by ISU members in 2010 compared with 2009. These of course correspond with a fall in the number of salvage services performed by ISU members. The total of all pollutants salved in 2010 by ISU members was 574,386 tonnes.
What are your proposals on the issue of oil spills (which we have seen enough of lately, and pose the biggest threat when it comes to marine salvages)?
My proposal for oil spills would be to use professional salvors more often. They are the first and sometimes the last line of defence. Salvors keep the oil in the ship, deploy oil booms, hold the casualty off the shoreline etc. and most importantly ensure minimal further environmental damage after an incident.
Shipowners, Shipmanagers, P&I Clubs, i.e. the stakeholders in a salvage operation need to be pro salvor – pro ISU member. They are best advised to avoid non-professional ad-hoc “cheap” contractors. When it comes to pollution - “cheap” - is expensive in the long run!
How do you view salvage services in Greece in particular?
Salvage within Greece has its challenges, as it does everywhere. Each country hosts its own rules and regulations which must of course be adhered to. Greece suffers from excessive bureaucracy.
If we are to look at this question from the “economic crisis” side, particularly from Greece’s viewpoint, then it goes without question that the economic crisis has had an effect on the Shipping Industry as a whole; however, it is true to say that the Salvage and Towage Industry has not been so affected. Professional Salvors have always been necessary, and as long as there are vessels plying the seas they will always be needed.