Baltic and European news
'Useless' global ship recycling treaty sparks criticism
A new international convention on ship recycling adopted by world governments at an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) conference in Hong Kong last Friday has been dismissed as "useless paper" by environmentalists and other campaigners.
Under the convention, end-of-life ships must only be recycled at authorised facilities according to a ship-specific recycling plan. Signatory nations must adopt regulations and standards for the authorisation of all ship recycling facilities in their territories.
An annex to the convention lists certain hazardous substances that will be banned or restricted in new ships, such as asbestos and ozone depleting substances. Ships built after the convention's entry into force must also carry an inventory of all hazardous materials aboard.
But green campaigners are incensed that the convention failed to explicitly ban the practice of "beaching" ships on tidal flats for dismantling (EE 08/05/09 http://www.endseurope.com/21303). "Powerful shipping owner interests have dominated negotiations", the NGO platform on shipbreaking said in a statement. Owners make up to $10m by selling end-of-life ships to beaching operations in South Asia, the platform adds.
The IMO itself sounded downbeat about the final text of the new convention. Secretary general Efthimios Mitropoulos described the agreed wording as "a good outcome in the circumstances". Its adoption "allows for future improvements and provides a platform for better regulation in due course", he added.
The NGO platform on shipbreaking said it would take the fight for tougher international regulations to the EU "and other forward thinking countries". Earlier this year the European Commission hinted it intends to go beyond the provisions in the new convention when it proposes EU legislation on ship dismantling later this year (EE 16/04/09 http://www.endseurope.com/21132).
Follow-up: IMO http://www.imo.org/, a press release
and conference webpage http://www.imoconf2009.hk/index.html. See also
press release from the NGO platform on shipbreaking
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