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Ship recycling debate over beaching rages on in regulatory vacuum

Methods ship-recycling remain a major area of controversy for shipowners as the ratification of the Hong Kong Convention continues to be an elusive goal.

Anne Steffensen, ceo of the Danish Shipowners Association, stated: “It is just not good enough that France, Norway and Congo have ratified the Hong Kong Convention. I am not very proud that Denmark has not ratified yet.”

Steffensen was speaking at the opening of a Sustainable Shipping forum held at the DSA in Copenhagen. Speaking from a shipowner perspective Thomas Martinussen, head of legal for Clipper Group said, “We are very much looking forward to the Hong Kong Convention being ratified as it will level the playing field and make the responsibilities of the shipowner clearer.”

Emilien Gasc, policy officer at the DG Environment, European Commission, said the EU started developing its own regulations after the “prospect of having the Hong Kong Convention ratified pushed ever further into the future”. The EU is drawing up a list of recycling yards that meet European standards as part of its regulations and the first publication of the list is set for the end of 2016.

Of specific area of controversy is the beaching method used by shipbreaking yards in Alang, India.

Last week ClassNK certified two yards in Alang for ship recycling in compliance with the standards if the Hong Kong Convention, and two more are seeking certifications. Ingvild Jenssen, founder of NGO Shipbreaking Platform, noted, “The two yards are calling themselves beaching facilities, but inter-tidal landing facilities.” She said they were asking ClassNK what improvements the yards had undergone.

“It will be important for us if these facilities can make it onto the EU list,” Jenssen added.

Commenting on yards in Alang in general Gasc from the EU said, “In our view it is not impossible for such facilities to make it on to the list,” but the did face major issues. “The moment of truth is if/when they apply.”

NGO Shipbreaking Platform has been strongly against the beaching method, and backed a recent move by the Norwegian Shipowners Association (NSA) to reject the method, and would like to see the DSA following suit.

DSA Director Maria Bruun Skipper, responded that, “In an ideal world we would like to recommend only using yards on the EU list.” But added that we were not in an ideal world and such a move would result in a lot of re-flagging. “We’d rather work from the bottom up to improve conditions.”

Clipper had experience of recycling a vessel at a yard in Alang using the beaching method, but taking active role in the process.

“We believe it is important you do not lump all the yards together as there huge differences in the yards at Alang,” he said.

“It is our hope we had a small but positive impact.”

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