(Written by Joergen Rudbeck)
4 February 2013 - 40 percent of the ships that are scrapped on Asian beaches come from the EU. Greece and Germany are the biggest sinners, says NGO Shipbreaking Platform in a new survey.
NGO Shipbreaking Platform has performed a survey of how many ships were scrapped on beaches around the world last year. Of the 1,213 large oceangoing vessels that were scrapped in 2013, 645 ships met their demise on non-certified beaches in countries such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
Patrizia Heidegger, CEO of NGO Shipbreaking Platform, is pleased with the parts of the development concerned with the fact that a lower number of total ships are being hauled onto beaches without approved working conditions.
“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 percent from the previous year. 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,” says Patrizia Heidegger, before turning her attention toward places that still need improvement.
“Still, the majority of ship owners uphold their dirty practices and European owners are amongst the worst,” she says, referring especially to Greek and German shipowners, who according to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform survey top the list of countries that have sent the biggest number of ships to Asian beaches.
European owners sold a total 372 major vessels for scrapping last year, and 238 of these – almost one third – wound up on the beaches of Southeast Asia. According to the organization, the Greek owners were the worst, but German owners followed close behind. As many as 80 percent of the two countries’ obsolete ships wound up in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and owners included names such as Danaos and Euroseas from Greece, and Conti, Hapag-Lloyd, and Leonhardt & Blumberg from Germany.
Known container ships part of the register
Among the European companies are Swiss container carrier MSC, which scrapped nine ships in India last year, while Monaco-based Sammy Ofer Group had 13 ships taken apart in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
Maersk also features on the NGO Shipbreaking Platform list, as the sold three ships to Diana Shipping before they were scrapped, after which the carrier chartered the vessels for continued operations. The three ships were scrapped last year on beaches in Asia, and NGO Shipreaking Platform points out that these ships represent the current trend that still reigns among carriers pretending to act responsibly in terms of shipbreaking.
Carriers circumvent the rules by selling vessels to non-EU companies while continuing to operate them, says the organization. Outflagging shortly prior to scrapping means that two out of three European ships sail to scrapping under non-EU flags, and thus the new EU regulations, which came into force on September 30th 2013, are too lax. Even though the regulations include a financial incentive, carriers with ships under non-EU flags will still find it lucrative to sail the ships and their toxic cargo to beach facilities that do not comply with the requirements if they get a chance to do so.
“Reflagging has always been a convenient way for ship owners to circumvent rules enforced by the flag states. 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,” says Patrizia Heidegger.
On the list of positive examples the NGO highlights two Norwegian carriers, Grieg and Höegh Autoliners, as companies that act responsibly when it comes to scrapping. The list also features Canada Steamship Lines (CSL) and Royal Ducth Boskalis, which took the extra step and have actually recycled materials from their ships in OECD countries.