Brussels, 18 August 2015 – The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association says no to the beaching of end-of-life vessels – the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, a global coalition of 19 environmental and human rights organisations, welcomes this decision and calls on other ship owners and their associations to mirror the Norwegian position.
In an op-ed published yesterday in Dagens Næringsliv, the largest daily business newspaper in Norway, the association’s CEO Sturla Henriksen writes that shipowners have a responsibility to ensure the safe and environmentally sound dismantling of their end-of-life fleet. The association further states on its website: “As an industry we can no longer defend that ships are broken in a way that puts health and the environment at risk. Therefore we say, as the first ship owners association in the world, no to the beaching of ships.”
The Norwegian position against dangerous and polluting shipbreaking increases the demand for safe and green ship recycling capacity.
International legislation on hazardous waste trade is easily circumvented by the shipping industry and rules adopted by the International Maritime Organisation in 2009, the Hong Kong Convention, have so far just received the meagre endorsement by only three countries – Norway, France and Congo. New European Union legislation, which outlines a more detailed interpretation of the Hong Kong Convention and adds value to these requirements by offering independent third party audits of the ship recycling facilities seeking approval, clearly disqualifies the beaching method as safe and environmentally sound. It is expected to be applicable by 2017. The Platform welcomes that the Norwegian ship owners, coming from a country that played a leading role on the development of the Hong Kong Convention, now vouch for a strict interpretation of the IMO rules in line with European requirements. The EU will soon publish a list of ship recycling facilities globally that meet basic environmental and occupational heath and safety standards – none of the South Asian beaching yards meet these requirements.
Thirteen large shipping companies already follow sustainable ship recycling policies. In addition to several Norwegian ship owners such as Grieg, Wilhelmsen and Høegh, also German Hapag-Lloyd, Danish Maersk Lines, Royal Dutch Boskalis, Canadian CSL Group and Singapore-based China Navigation Company, have committed to ensuring the proper end-of-life management of their fleet. They do so on principle, even if they have to compromise on their profits – they simply do not want to be responsible for polluting sensitive coastal zones and putting workers lives at risk during dirty and dangerous shipbreaking on tidal beaches. The announcement of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association adds many more shipping companies to the list of responsible stakeholders.