France has become the first country to sign the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009.

The convention is aimed at ensuring no risk to human health and safety to the environment after the ships are recycled or when they have reached the end of their operational life.

The convention has been conceptualised by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution from ships.

The Hong Kong Convention was adopted at a diplomatic conference in May 2009.

The convention will enter into force 24 months after the date on which 15 states, representing 40% of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage, have their accession with the IMO secretary general.

The combined maximum annual ship recycling volume of those states must, during the preceding ten years, constitute not less than 3% of their combined merchant shipping tonnage.