Issued 22nd March 2017

Members of the International Salvage Union (ISU) provided 213 services to vessels carrying more than 2.5 million tonnes of potentially polluting cargoes during operations in 2016. It is a major demonstration of the value of their work towards protecting the marine environment.

President of the ISU, John Witte, said: “Members of the ISU are often the only agency available with the necessary resources and experience to intervene in a casualty situation. And there is no doubt that, yet again, in 2016 our members’ services have helped to protect the marine environment from potential damage. Improvements in shipping -vessel quality as well as crew training, improved aids to navigation and so on -have reduced the number of casualties but we are all aware that it only needs one major incident to cause an environmental disaster.”
The data is from the results of the ISU’s 2016 Pollution Prevention Survey. The survey was re-based in 2014 to include a wider range of potential pollutants including containers and hazardous and dirty bulk cargoes.
Mr Witte added: “ISU took the decision in 2014 to update the methodology of this survey which started in 1994. At that time the threat of pollution was considered to be largely from oil and refined products carried by VLCCs and other tankers. That threat still exists but today coastal state authorities consider most cargo to be potentially polluting. Container trade has also increased dramatically and the capacity of boxships is now far greater than in 1994. We think it is right that our potential pollution survey should record containers, with their mixed and sometimes hazardous contents, as a potential pollutant and hazard.”

2016 ISU Pollution Prevention Survey Results (tonnes)

2016 2015
Number of services 213 185
Bunker fuel 89,492 66,247
Crude oil 705,148 333,720
Refined oil products 544,742 332,696
Chemicals 109,864 35,744
Bulk polluting/hazardous 859,531 722,160
TEU – tonnes equivalent 318,360 (21,224 TEU@nominal 15 tonnes/TEU) 330,015 (21,941 TEU@nominal 15 tonnes/TEU)
Other pollutants 56,762 65,282
Totals 2,683,899 1,885,864

Mr Witte also noted: “ISU is always careful to say that not all of the cargo shown in the survey was at imminent risk of being lost to the sea. But we think that even with a relatively simple rescue tow it is worth considering what might have happened if there was no commercial provision of salvage services.”

The survey takes account of the International Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code), Intercargo guidance, P&I Club guidance; International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation publications and the International Solid Bulk Cargoes Code. The attitude of coastal state authorities has also been considered based on ISU members’ operational experience.

In 2016 ISU members provided 213 services (185 in 2015). Variants of wreck removal contracts were used in 43 services; Lloyd’s Open Form – 26 services; towage contracts – 42 services; Japanese Form – 13 services; Fixed Price – 8 services; Day Rate – 54 services; other contracts – 20 services.

In the period 1994 to end-2016, ISU members salved 24,800,899 tonnes of potential pollutants, an average of more than one million tonnes per year.