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Salvage's bad reputation must be addressed, says new ISU president

Salvage's bad reputation must be addressed, says new ISU president
The salvage industry’s problematic reputation is “damaging the industry as a whole” and must be addressed, according to John Witte, the new president of the International Salvage Union (ISU).

Witte, who took over from Leendert Muller as president of the organisation in October, pledged to crack down on unscrupulous operators within its industry. “ISU will not tolerate bad behaviour and will enforce its code of conduct if necessary,” he said.

“ISU members are well-capitalised, well-equipped, experienced operators willing to take on jobs at their own risk. They offer something more than a marine consultant with a good contacts book."

However, he added, “At our recent AGM we had an open forum discussion and we put this issue on the table for the first time. It was clear that there was general agreement among ISU members that there is a reputational risk which is damaging the industry as a whole. Recognising the problem is often the hardest step.”

Witte highlighted the diminishing use of Lloyd’s Open Forms (LOFs) which would leave many salvors vulnerable to being short-changed in its dealings with shipping, as well as opening them up to “the risk of criminalisation”. Salvors recovered $1bn of property under LOF agreements in 2014.

“For some years we have become more and more aware that others in the shipping industry have a perception that some salvors are not behaving in the way they should – both with other contractors and their clients: the owners and insurers,” said Witte. “Now, whether it is true or not, there is an old saying ‘perception is reality’ and so we need to address it.”