Release of the car carrier ‘Global Spirit’, which was detained for three weeks by Belgian environmental authorities in the port of Antwerp, has been welcomed by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the global trade association for shipowners.
The vessel had been detained for alleged non-compliance with the European Union Waste Shipment Regulation, the ship having originally been scheduled to be recycled in a non-OECD country. ICS maintains that the detention was inappropriate, and that this EU Regulation was never intended for application to international shipping or to ships which are scheduled to be recycled. However, ICS said it was pleased that the local authorities have come to an understanding with the shipowner.
ICS also welcomed the emphasis now being given by the Belgian authorities to the importance of the rapid entry into force of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Hong Kong Convention on Ship Recycling and its commitment to speed up Belgium’s ratification of this important Convention. ICS said it fully agrees with the Belgian authorities that the entry into force of the IMO Convention ‘is the best guarantee and the only way forward for sustainable ship recycling’ throughout the global shipping industry.
ICS reiterated the following points, which were communicated by ICS to the Flemish Ministry of the Environment when the ship was still detained:
“The EU European Waste Shipment Regulation, and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes were never intended for application to international shipping or to ships which are scheduled to be recycled. This important point has been repeatedly recognised during discussions that have taken place since the Basel Convention was adopted.
The relevant international regime which is applicable to international shipping is the IMO Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. While this instrument has not yet entered into force, it is fully supported by the international shipping industry. It also provides a sounder and far more relevant basis for determining whether a shipping company is meeting its responsibilities to ensure that redundant ships are indeed being recycled in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner. All IMO Member States are therefore encouraged to work towards the ratification of the IMO Hong Kong Convention as soon as possible.”
The ICS voiced the international shipping industry’s commitment to the safe and environmentally sound recycling of redundant ships, demonstrated by the development by the industry of Guidelines on Transitional Measures for Shipowners Selling Ships for Recycling, “which sets out the measures that shipowners might reasonably undertake in order to adhere to the spirit of the IMO Hong Kong Convention in advance of its entry into force.”
Press Release, June 30, 2014