Ship recycling practices in Alang, India, are gradually improving, the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) says, following a fact-finding visit from last week to Alang.
“The European Commission should acknowledge this positive development under the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. Adopting an overly restrictive approach will discourage first movers and further delay the entry into force of the IMO Hong Kong Convention,” ECSA said.
The visit was organised in cooperation with the Indian government, the Gujarat Maritime Board and the Ship Recycling Industry Association (SRIA) of India and included representatives from EU Member States, the European Commission (DG Environment) as well as the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).
Like in most other South Asian ship recycling yards, recycling operations in Alang take place in intertidal zone and are notorious for their poor safety practices. However, South Asian yards still represent the greatest part of the world’s ship recycling capacity, not only in terms of volume but also in terms of size of ships enabled to be dismantled, especially for EU owners.
Out of 239 end-of-life ships sold for breaking in the first quarter of 2016 a total of 79 per cent of ships ended up on South Asian beaches, according to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, with India taking the lead again as the favorite final destination.
The report shows that 68 ships sold to South Asia in the first quarter of 2016 were owned by EU owners, with Greek owners topping the list with 40 ships sold to South Asian breakers, followed by German owners with 16 ships.
The organization said that the main purpose of the ECSA visit was to assess to what extent operations in intertidal zones can be sustainable and thus be potentially compliant with the provisions of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation.
The Regulation was adopted in 2013 in anticipation of the entry into force of the ‘Hong Kong Convention, which aims to establish a level playing field for sustainable ship recycling activities worldwide.
“We were able to visit a diverse number of yards in transparency and could take stock of progress made in terms of health, safety and environmental protection”, said ECSA Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven.
“It is obvious that the implementation of standards differs considerably, but an increasing number of yards have clearly taken the responsible path towards full compliance with the Hong Kong Convention, both in letter and spirit. We want to ensure that the other yards are following these first movers so that the bar can be raised overall. As the Hong Kong Convention has not entered into force yet, we have encouraged these yards to apply for recognition under the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. In turn, we urge the Commission to assess these applications in the true spirit of the Regulation and the Convention.”
The EU Regulation incorporates the provisions of the Hong Kong Convention and establishes an EU approved list of recycling facilities where EU-flagged vessels will have to be scrapped. Ship recycling yards worldwide can apply to be included on this list.
The EU Regulation does not preclude yards that operate in intertidal zones from obtaining EU recognition, but it sets the bar high making it extremely challenging for these yards to be recognised.