Marine Casualty. Wreck removal . Provisions that will impact upon the liability and response of interested parties. Relevant law and conventions in force

The LNM establishes and regulates the procedures aimed at the removal of shipwrecks and other goods on the seabed, but such regulation does not apply in the case of underwater cultural heritage goods situated in the areas contiguous with Spain, in the exclusive economic area and in the continental platform, governed by the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage of 2 November 2001, and by other treaties signed by Spain, as well as by specific legislation. In accordance with the LNM, shipwrecked or sunken state vessels, as well as their remains, equipment and cargo are state public property, inalienable, not subject to limitation periods, and enjoying immunity from jurisdiction, regardless of when they were lost, or where they find themselves. When a vessel impedes or obstructs free access to a port, canal or navigable route, or free transit throughout the same, the Marine Authority may adopt any necessary measures, including issuing orders to the captain of the vessel. Liability for removal of wrecks cannot be limited, in conformity with the 1996 Convention. In addition, the Spanish Ports Act 2/2011 gives a maritime lien on the wreck to Marine and Harbour Authorities. The Director General of the Merchant Navy is the Authority responsible for adopting any necessary measures in order to take in a vessel which needs refuge, and it may even impose refuge if this is considered the best option for the protection of both human life and the environment. In 2009, Spain ratified the UNESCO’s 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. However, Spain has not ratified the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks.