A total of 128 end-of-life ships were sold for scrap to the South Asian beaches during the first quarter of 2017, according to the data collected and analysed by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
The number represents 65 percent of ships which reached the shores of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, out of a total of 196 vessels sold for demolition worldwide during the three-month period.
This quarter 22 ships were sold for breaking at Pakistan’s Gadani yard, “one of the world’s most dangerous places to work,” despite a number of incidents at the yard including a major explosion on the tanker Aces in November 2016, a fire on a Greek-owned LPG tanker, and a lifeboat fall from the UK-based Zodiac owned Snowdon, which together claimed at least 34 workers’ lives.
A further 37 ships were sold to Bangladesh’s Chittagong breaking yards, where as many as six accidents struck the industry in the first months of 2017 killing three workers and seriously injuring another three.
The Alang beach in India was by far the most popular destination for end-of-life ships this quarter, with 69 ships sold for breaking. The yards in Alang have recently been portraying their practices as improved compared to Bangladesh and Pakistan, but the overall unnecessarily risky conditions of breaking ships on tidal beaches remains, the Platform said, adding that serious accidents were reported in Alang this quarter, resulting in at least two fatalities.
“Beaching yards offer cheap, but dangerous and polluting scrapping. Ship owners have been aware of the detrimental effects of breaking ships on tidal beaches for more than 20 years, yet the ease with which existing environmental laws can be circumvented for the sake of the extra profit the shipping industry makes by selling to the beach yards allows the worst practices to persist,” NGO Shipbreaking Platform said.
European companies accounted for half of the vessels beached in South Asia the first quarter. For the first time, German owners topped the list with 26 ships sold to South Asian breakers, followed by Greek owners with 17 beached end-of-life vessels.
German ship owners, Hansa Mare Reederei GmbH & Company KG and Peter Döhle Schiffahrts-KG, “top the list of the worst dumpers this quarter with each having beached five end-of-life ships,” according to the Platform.
Whilst grey- and black-listed flags, such as Comoros, Palau and St Kitts and Nevis, continue to be particularly popular for end-of-life ships, also ships registered under the flags Malta and Cyprus ended up on the beaches.