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IMO ship recycling convention to finally come into force in 2025

Photo: GMS Ship recycling worker
Some 16 years after it was adopted in Hong Kong the IMO convention on ship recycling will finally come into force in June 2025.

With both Bangladesh and Liberia ratifying the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (Hong Kong Convention) on 26 June will finally come into force on 26 June 2025.

The previously announced accession by Bangladesh had pushed the convention over the line in terms of ratification by ship recycling capacity of not less than 3% of the gross tonnage of the combined merchant shipping of ratifying states, while Liberia meant the convention also cleared the 40% of the world fleet by gross tonnage marker.

"I congratulate Bangladesh and Liberia for depositing their instruments of accession this June, triggering within 24 months the entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention, and the global regime for safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships,” said KiTack Lim, Secretary-General of the IMO.

“This is a momentous day for IMO, and it is indeed a historical development for the international shipping industry, for the marine environment, and especially for workers and local communities in ship recycling countries globally." 

While undoubtably a momentous achievement for the IMO and its outgoing Secretary-General of the UN body that governs shipping, it also underscores how torturously slow rule making for the industry can be.

The Hong Kong Convention was adopted in May 2009 with much hullabaloo, but the process of ratification has approved akin to watching paint dry taking 14 years and one month to get across the line, then a further two years to actually come into force.

The process has been so slow that for a number of years now major classification societies have been offering certification to shipbreaking yards to compliance of the Hong Kong Convention to meet the demands of owners that wanted to be sure their vessels were recycled in a responsible manner.

Meanwhile the European Union has drawn up its own set of rules in the form of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation (EU SRR) which is more stringent than the Hong Kong Convention.

John Stawpert, Senior Manager (Environment and Trade) of the International Chamber of Shipping commented: “It is overwhelmingly positive for the shipping and recycling industries, and the environment that the Hong Kong Convention has now entered into force following the most recent confirmation of ratification from Bangladesh and the Liberian Registry, a move that the International Chamber of Shipping have championed for 14 years.

He added: “Entry into force confirms the huge progress made in safe and environmentally sound ship recycling that has been driven by the Convention since its adoption in 2009 and realises the globally compliant market into which ships must now be sold, giving shipowners confidence and legal certainty that end-of-life vessels will be recycled properly.”

Meanwhile the ever on the ball Asian Shipowners Association issued a press statement on Tuesday welcoming the significant step in Bangladesh ratifying the convention, but making no mention of Liberia, and the resultant coming into force of the convention.