Ship & Bunker – European Owners “Among the Worst” on Shipbreaking

Access the original article

20 February 2014 - Owners in Greece and Germany disposed of 80 percent of their end-of-life vessels in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, where poor enforcement of environmental, safety, and labour right standards keeps disposal inexpensive but dangerous, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform reports.

The advocacy coalition found that, of the 1,213 large ocean-going vessels that were scrapped in 2013, 645 ended up at substandard facilities in South Asia, although the numbers for the year look better than they did in 2012.

“Whereas the number of dismantled ships remained nearly as high as in 2012, the number of beached ships dropped from 850 to 645 in 2013, representing a reduction of 24% from the previous year,” said Patrizia Heidegger, executive director of the group.

“More ship owners have opted for cleaner and safer solutions in 2013 compared to previous years – this is good news for the environment and the workers, and also for those ship recycling yards globally that have invested in better practices.

“Still, the majority of ship owners uphold their dirty practices and European owners are amongst the worst.”

About 40 percent of the ships that were disposed of improperly were owned by European Union (EU)-based companies.

A new EU regulation on ship recycling became effective at the end of the year, but the nonprofit coalition said it remains possible to register ships under flags of convenience to evade the new rules.

“Reflagging has always been a convenient way for ship owners to circumvent rules enforced by the flag states,” Heidegger said.

“The Platform and its members have been calling upon the EU to introduce an economic incentive to promote clean and safe ship recycling, because a Regulation based only on the voluntary registration under a European flag will not have the promised impact.”

Issues around scrapping of old ships were the subject of heated debate among European lawmakers this summer.