India, one of the world’s five major ship recycling countries, has acceded to the IMO Hong Kong Convention, the treaty that will set global standards for safe and environmentally-sound ship recycling.
India’s accession brings the a significant step closer to entering into force, with the required 15 States now party to it and with India’s ship recycling volume considerably contributing to the required recycling capacity.
The Hong Kong Convention1 covers the design, construction, operation and maintenance of ships to ensure they can be recycled safely and in an environment-friendly way at the end of their lives. It also deals with how ships should be prepared for their final voyage to a recycling facility, without compromising their safety or operational efficiency.
Under the Hong Kong Convention, ships sent for recycling are required to carry an inventory of all hazardous materials on board. Ship recycling facilities are required to provide a “Ship Recycling Plan” specifying how each ship will be recycled, based on its particular characteristics and its inventory of hazardous materials.
Gopal Krishna, Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Shipping and Amitabh Kumar, India’s Director General of Shipping, deposited the instrument of accession to the treaty with IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim on November 28 during the 31st session of the IMO Assembly.
IMO Secretary-General Lim urged other States, in particular those with a considerable ship recycling volume, to become Party to the treaty as soon as possible. “What happens to ships at the end of their lifetime is an important global issue with major consequences for safety and the environment,” Lim said. “I urge all countries yet to do so to ratify this important convention so it can enter into force and provide a consistent, global regulatory regime for this vital industry.”
Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), said: “ICS welcomes the accession of India to the Hong Kong Convention. This is a major step towards guaranteeing the safe and environmentally sound management of ship recycling throughout the ships entire lifecycle.”
He continued: “There has been a general trend towards compliance with the requirements of the Convention by both the shipping and recycling industries, and real strides have been made in improving working conditions by recyclers. India’s action is a further sign of this global determination to bring ship recycling practices under a single legal framework, and we are hopeful that it will spur other major recycling States, particularly China and Bangladesh to ratify and make the Convention a reality as soon as possible.”
The treaty will enter into force 24 months after three separate criteria have been met. It must be ratified by 15 States – but these States must represent 40 percent of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage, and a combined maximum annual ship recycling volume (during the preceding 10 years) of not less than three percent of their combined gross tonnage.
The top five ship recycling countries in the world, between them accounting for more than 98 percent of all ship recycling by gross tonnage are Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan and Turkey.
The Contracting States are: Belgium, Congo, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Japan, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Serbia and Turkey. They between them represent just over 30 percent of world merchant shipping tonnage.