Seatrade Global – Belgium backs rapid entry into force of HK Convention on ship recycling

(Written by Marcus Hand)

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30 June 2014 – The Belgium authorities have called for the rapid entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention on ship recycling following the three-week detention of the vessel Global Spirit in the port of Antwerp.

The vessel was released on 26 June after being held for three weeks over issues of non-compliance with the EU Waste Shipment Regulation and the shipowner’s plan to export the vessel to a non-OECD country for scrapping. The ship has since obtained approved notification has been allowed to sail to a recycling yard in Turkey.

“The Belgian authorities want to stress the importance of the rapid entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention which is better adapted to the needs and concerns of the shipping industry, as also the European Ship Recycling Regulation will not provide a solution for ships flying the flag of a third country when going for recycling,” the Flemish government said in statement.

“Belgium will thereto speed up its accession process to the Hong Kong Convention, which they believe is the best guarantee and the only way forward for sustainable ship recycling, within and outside the OECD.”

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said it “greatly welcomes” the emphasis now being given by the Belgian authorities on the entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention.

The Hong Kong Convention was adopted in 2009 but to-date has only been ratified by a single state.

Environmental and safety standards in ship recycling are a long running issue and just this weekend five workers were killed in blast at a shipbreaking yard in Alang, India.