The Importance of Solving Legal Problems Regarding Wrecks - Risks Posed by Dangerous Wrecks in Swedish Waters
Abstract: This thesis discusses legal problems in relation to shipwrecks, with focus on dangerous and abandoned wrecks, and takes a de lege ferenda perspective on regulations regarding wreck liability, responsibility for wreck removal and prevention of pollution on the marine environment. Abandoned wrecks may obstruct navigation and pose hazard to the marine environment. Moreover, wrecks create a wide range of problems, for lawyers, coastal States and societies, authorities, seafarers and insurers alike. The number of wrecks in Swedish waters is unknown but is currently being inventoried by the Swedish Maritime Administration. Nonetheless, and taking into account that the number of abandoned, and possibly dangerous wrecks, in Swedish waters is likely considerable, there is no comprehensible set of laws regulating problems stemming from and liability for wrecks. The past few years, attentiveness has been drawn in Sweden to the lack of regu-lations on wrecks. Wreck-related issues are also subject to recent interna-tional attention. A Wreck Removal Convention has been adopted, and will fill a gap in the existing international framework by providing uniform rules on effective wreck removal beyond the territorial sea. However, the Con-vention has not entered into force. International instruments regulating issues related to wrecks do exist, providing rules intended to prevent marine casualties and pollution. Moreover, these instruments provide obligations for States to take responsibility for such prevention. In Sweden, liability for wrecks is primarily connected to wreck ownership. The owner is usually covered by liability insurance; therefore, the insurer, typically a P&I-club, plays an important role when wrecks cause damage. The Swedish authorities have some possibilities to intervene and take measures re¬garding dangerous wrecks. The hazard wrecks may pose to the marine environment depends on a num-ber of factors included in the characteristics of the wreck itself and of the cargo together with the conditions at the location of the wreck. Moreover, the measures that can or must be taken in regard to wrecks depend on these same factors together with others, such as economical/financial, political, and last but not least legal factors. The international and national law covering wrecks is incomprehensive. The dominant feature of this field of law is the lack of regulation. Legislation concerning wrecks is best done nationally due to the fact that the most damage is done by wrecks in national waters. Nonetheless, international harmonization on wreck-related issues would be beneficial.
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