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Old 30-03-2016, 18:38   #1
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USCG Buoy

Apparently a fisherman has possession of a USGS data telemetry buoy, and wants salvage compensation. It was floating in the Pacific, after it broke loose. He found it, and hauled it in. What's his chances? ARSTechnica has the detail
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Old 30-03-2016, 19:12   #2
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Re: USCG Buoy

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2...ack-for-13000/

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Old 30-03-2016, 19:21   #3
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Re: USCG Buoy

On the basis he is using to claim compensation I think his odds of collecting are about zero.

Salvage law is not, as the fisherman claim, finders keepers. The law of salvage allows a salvager to claim appropriate compensation from the owner of a salvaged vessel based on the risk the that vessel and the effort required and risk to the salvager. Would this apply the same way to a buoy? Have to ask a lawyer that one.
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Old 30-03-2016, 19:27   #4
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Re: USCG Buoy

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On the basis he is using to claim compensation I think his odds of collecting are about zero.

Salvage law is not, as the fisherman claim, finders keepers. The law of salvage allows a salvager to claim appropriate compensation from the owner of a salvaged vessel based on the risk the that vessel and the effort required and risk to the salvager. Would this apply the same way to a buoy? Have to ask a lawyer that one.
That's about the same as what I thought. His lawyer (according to ARS) was his father, so I imagine he was getting a good rate.
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Old 30-03-2016, 20:12   #5
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Re: USCG Buoy

I would argue that the bouy is classified as flotsam, and he is entitled to a salvage claim. Valuation to be determined by the court.

The attorney is wrong, the fisherman do not own it, but they are entitled to a salvage claim. Strangely enough if the bouy had sunk and they found it then it would be classed as jetsam and they would hold title to it.
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Old 30-03-2016, 22:15   #6
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Re: USCG Buoy

As I understand it, the buoy was designed to float to the surface after a period of time recording data at depth and then transmit a homing signal for recovery.

So it was not flotsam, jetsam or abandoned. The fisherman interfered with government property which was doing its job. They shouldn't have a leg to stand on.
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Old 30-03-2016, 22:51   #7
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Re: USCG Buoy

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As I understand it, the buoy was designed to float to the surface after a period of time recording data at depth and then transmit a homing signal for recovery.

So it was not flotsam, jetsam or abandoned. The fisherman interfered with government property which was doing its job. They shouldn't have a leg to stand on.
It clearly wasn't abandoned, but I am not sure that the fact that it was intentionally left floating changes the equasion much. A piece of valuable equipment was left floating, not under command, in the ocean, that is definitional flotsam.

It is an interesting question of law however.

The bigger issue is that these guys are getting some terrible advice from their lawyer. At most they could demand a salvage bond for the value of the instrument but then would have to return it. Legal reporting is notoriously terrible because reporters have no idea what they are talking about, and minor differences make a huge difference in what's going on.


So I went and got interested and read the actual complaint and filing. According to the government filing the bouy broke loose from its mooring during a storm and floated free. So in summation a piece of marine equipment broke loose during a storm and was found floating mid-ocean by someone else.

I am willing to bet a dollar that this is flotsam. But given the filing from the government, and the responce from the defendants attorney it wouldn't suprize me if this never gets brought up.
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Old 30-03-2016, 23:12   #8
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Re: USCG Buoy

If it was a release-on-signal buoy and it released without the signal from a collecting vessel or received a release signal and the vessel failed to then retrieve it one would imagine that the Coast Guard would be happy to reward the finder for the salvage of both an expensive oceanographic recording device and the data it contains. Maybe it's a matter of not being able to agree on a fair reward.
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Old 31-03-2016, 08:08   #9
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Re: USCG Buoy

If it broke free accidentally, he should have rights. Assuming he is being honest, he had no way of knowing the govt had a tracking beacon and he was doing exactly what salvage laws are designed to encourage...salvaging items lost at sea.
If it broke free intentionally...not so sure. If it's intentional, was it labeled as such? Was there some way for the salvager to know before initiating a salvage?
Being the govt, I expect the law will go out the window and they will pay nothing.


How about this one...you are in a calm cove and some kids come up on shore with a radio controlled boat. They aren't causing any issues or bothering you. It get's too far out of range but the wind is pushing it back to shore...can you take your dink over grab it and demand salvage? (ignore the fact that you would be being a colossal jerk to take a kids toy and demand money for it's return)
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