In shipping law, salvage is the compensation allowed to persons who voluntarily assist in saving a vessel or its cargo from impending or actual peril from the sea. Generally salvage is limited to vessels and their cargoes, or to property lost in the sea or other NAVIGABLE WATERS, that have been subsequently found and rescued.
Except for salvage performed under contract, the rescuer, known as the salvor, must act voluntarily without being under any legal duty to do so. As long as the owner or the owner's agent remains on the ship, unwanted offers of salvage may be refused. Typical acts of salvage include releasing ships that have run aground or on reefs, raising sunken ships or their cargo, or putting out fires.
The salvor has a maritime lien on the salvaged property, in an amount determined by a court based on the facts and circumstances of the case. The salvor may retain the property until the claim is satisfied or until security to meet an award is given. The owner may elect to pay salvage money to the salvor or to not reclaim the property.
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