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Source: Encyclopedia of Banking & Finance (9h Edition) by Charles J Woelfel
(We recommend this as work of authority.)

In ocean shipping, the loss or damage sustained by a ship or its cargo, or the amount payable by the owner of the ship and the owners of the cargo to make good such loss or damage.

Average is of two classes - particular and general.  A particular average is borne entirely by the owner (or his insurer) of the particular property which is lost or damaged, whether a part of the ship or of its cargo.  The loss of or damage to any particular property cannot be assessed among all the cargo owners.  A general average, however, is one incurred in the common interests of the ship and cargo and is borne by all the parties interested in the ship and cargo, in proportion to such interests as ascertained by persons known as average adjusters.  Jettison (throwing overboard a certain part of the cargo in order to save the rest) is a loss that would be defined as a general average.

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