The shipping industry’s management of end-of-life vessels has shown no improvements in 2016 as the number of ships sold for shipbreaking on the beaches of South Asia increased during the year, according to data released by NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
Namely, out of 862 ships which were dismantled worldwide, a total of 668 vessels were broken on tidal beaches in 2016, representing as much as 87% of all tonnage dismantled.
“The shipping industry is nowhere close to ensuring sustainable ship recycling practices. Last year, we saw not only an increase in the market share for dangerous and dirty shipbreaking, but also a record-breaking number of EU-owned vessels on the South Asian beaches,” Patrizia Heidegger, Executive Director of the Platform, said.
Heidegger added that 84% of all European end-of-life ships ended up on the beaches in either India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.
A higher number of ships beached means that workers, the environment and local communities in South Asia are exposed to ever increased hardship. 2016 saw one of the worst incidents in the history of the industry when at least 28 workers were killed and more than 50 injured in a series of explosions on a tanker beached in Gadani, Pakistan on 1 November.
The death toll in the Bangladeshi yards, which the Platform was able to document, reached 22 in 2016, while another 29 workers suffered serious injuries. Whilst accident records in Indian shipbreaking yards are kept a secret, the Platform was informed of at least two deaths in Alang.
NGO Shipbreaking Platform’s data shows that Germany sent a total of 98 ships to the beaches of South Asia out of a total of 100 vessels sold for demolition. With a total of 104 ships sold for scrap, Greece was responsible for the highest absolute number of vessels sold to South Asian shipbreaking yards in 2016.
The data compiled by the Platform also show that ship owners continue to shield themselves from responsibility through the use of cash buyers such as GMS and Wirana. These scrap dealers reflag end-of-life vessels to last-voyage flags of convenience, such as Palau, Comoros and St Kitts and Nevis, and sell them off for the highest price offered by the worst yards.
In 2017, the EU will publish a list of ship recycling facilities around the world that comply with high standards for environmental protection and workers’ safety. The list will be the first of its kind and an important reference point for sustainable ship recycling.