The Rotterdam District Court in the Netherlands has sentenced shipping company Seatrade for illegally sailing ships to the beaches of South Asia for scrapping.

The court has ordered the company and two of its directors to pay a fine of up to $925,275 and also banned them from executive roles at any shipping company for one year.

However, the directors have escaped prison sentences as requested by the prosecutors on the pretext that the incident is the first case of illegal shipbreaking made against a European shipping company.

According to the court, Seatrade has violated the EU Waste Shipment Regulation by exporting four of its vessels to India for scrapping in 2012.

“Beaching a ship and demolishing it at the spot pollutes water and air, while untrained workers lack the expertise to deal with dangerous materials.”

The ships eventually ended up on beaches in India, Bangladesh, and Turkey, where their demolition endangered the lives and health of the workers involved in addition to polluting the environment.

In its ruling, cited by Reuters, the court said: “It is common knowledge that beaching a ship and demolishing it at the spot pollutes water and air, while untrained workers lack the expertise to deal with dangerous materials.

“These practices cause multiple deaths each year.”

NGO Shipbreaking Platform has welcomed the latest court ruling saying that it sets a Europe-wide example for holding ship owners accountable for knowingly selling vessels through suspicious cash-buyers for dirty and dangerous breaking practices in order to increase profits.