An international convention on the recycling of ships will finally be coming into full force after being ratified 14 years after it was first adopted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships was first adopted by the IMO in 2009 and also immediately adopted by 63 countries but could only be fully sanctioned this week after ratification by Bangladesh and Liberia.
IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim said: “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.”
The convention covers not only the afterlife care for ships but also ensures that their design and construction facilitate a safe recycling process further down the line, as well as improving the safety of ship recycling yards.
Additionally, ships will be required to carry a specific inventory of hazardous materials which should be renewed frequently throughout their life and in a final survey before recycling.
The European Community Shipowners’ Association secretary-general Sotiris Raptis said the ratification was great news for the industry: “The ratification of the convention is a major breakthrough. It will ensure that ships are recycled in a safe and environmentally sound manner internationally and will create an international level playing field.”
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Though the convention only needed 15 states to sign on, other stipulations that required it to cover at least 40% of the world’s merchant shipping by tonnage and a specific level of ship recycling capacity meant that it could not be triggered until now.
Bangladesh and Liberia’s involvement is significant thanks to the former country’s position as one of the world’s largest ship-recycling countries by capacity and the latter’s position as one of the world’s largest flag states by tonnage.
Whilst celebrating the important step, Lim also took the time to thank Norway for its efforts supporting the years-long IMO Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling in Bangladesh project, which was a key step towards ratification and has just entered Phase III.
High Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem, the permanent representative of Bangladesh to the IMO, said: “Bangladesh thanks IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim and his team, the Government of Norway and other international organisations for their continued support to our ship-recycling industry.”
Due to a 24-month waiting period in the convention, it will officially come into force on June 26 2025.
Ship Technology has previously explored whether the Hong Kong convention will be able to end dangerous ship recycling practices.