Merchant Shipping (Salvage and Wreck) Act, 1993

Power to remove wreck, etc.

52.—(1) Where any wreck is in, or in or near any approach to, any harbour under the control of a harbour authority in such a manner as, in the opinion of the authority, to be, or be likely to become, an obstruction or danger to navigation or to lifeboats engaged in lifeboat service in that harbour or the approach thereto, that authority shall have the functions set out in subsection (4).

(2) Where any wreck is on or near the coasts of the State and there is no harbour authority having functions under this section to raise and remove or otherwise render harmless that wreck, the Commissioners shall, if in their opinion that wreck is, or is likely to become, an obstruction or danger to navigation or to lifeboats engaged in the lifeboat service, have the functions set out in subsection (4).

(3) Where a local authority, in whose functional area or an area contiguous thereto a wreck is situated, is of the opinion, after consulting with the harbour authority concerned or the Commissioners (as the case may be), that the wreck is not or is unlikely to become an obstruction or danger to navigation or to lifeboats engaged in the lifeboat service, the local authority shall, if that authority has reasonable grounds for believing that the wreck constitutes a threat of harm to the marine environment or to related interests, have the functions set out in subsection (4).

(4) The functions exercisable by the appropriate authority by virtue of this section are as follows:

(a) to take possession of, and raise and remove, or otherwise render harmless, the whole or any part of the wreck;

(b) to light or buoy, subject where appropriate to the approvalof the Commissioners, the wreck until it is raised and removed or otherwise rendered harmless;

(c) subject to subsections (7) and (8), to sell or otherwise dispose of, in such manner as they think fit, the wreck or part of the wreck in respect of which they have exercised the functions set out in either or both paragraph (a) or (b);

(d) to retain out of the proceeds of the sale, the expenses incurred by them in relation to the wreck.

(5) Where a harbour authority, local authority or the Commissioners have incurred expenses in the exercise of their functions under this section or section 51 in relation to any wreck, then—

(a) if the proceeds of any sale under subsection (4) (c) in connection with the exercise of those functions in relation to the wreck are insufficient to reimburse the appropriate authority for the full amount of those expenses, they may recover the full amount of the deficiency from the relevant person, or

(b) if there is no such sale, the appropriate authority may recover the full amount of those expenses from the relevant person.

(6) The expenses referred to in subsection (5) shall, without prejudice to any other remedy, be recoverable in the same manner as salvage is recoverable.

(7) Any surplus of the proceeds of a sale under subsection (4) (c) shall be held by the appropriate authority on trust for the relevant person or, if the wreck is unclaimed, for the State.

(8) Except in the case of other wreck which is of a perishable or volatile nature, no sale shall be made under subsection (4) (c) until at least 7 days' notice of the intended sale has been given by publication in one or more newspapers printed in the State and circulating in the area or contiguous to the area where either or both the wreck is situated or the appropriate authority serving the notice is situated which, in the case of the Commissioners, shall be the State.

(9) (a) At any time before any other wreck is sold under subsection (4) (c), the owner of the wreck shall be entitled to delivery of it on payment of its fair market value.

(b) The fair market value of other wreck for the purposes of paragraph (a) shall be that agreed on between the appropriate authority concerned and the relevant person or, failing agreement, that determined by a person appointed for such purpose by the Minister.

(10) Any sum paid to the authority in respect of any wreck under subsection (9) shall, for the purposes of this section, be treated as the proceeds of sale of the wreck.

(11) This section is without prejudice to any other functions exercisable by an appropriate authority.

(12) If any question arises between two or more appropriate authorities as to their respective functions under this section, that question shall, on the application of any appropriate authority concerned, bereferred to the Minister for a decision and any such decision of the Minister under this subsection shall be final.

(13) In this section “the relevant person” in relation to any wreck, means the owner of the wreck at the time when it sunk or was wrecked, grounded, stranded or abandoned.