Sustainable Shipping – Ship recycling vote pits greens against owners

(Written by Julian Macqueen)

27 March 2013 - EU fund aimed at substandard breakers yards

European shipowners have poured cold water on a European parliamentary proposal to set up a ship recycling fund.

The fund would comprise a levy on ships calling at Europe Union (EU) ports which would then be used to offset the price differential between EU-vetted and substandard shipbreaking yards.

But shipowners in Europe and Asia are less than enthusiastic about the idea.

“Evidence has been given by industry that such ideas are unworkable and would create administrative and legal problems,” said the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) in a statement.

“A recycling fund has been discussed many times and has been continuously rejected as being unworkable and having no added value in improving the conditions at recycling yards,” the statement said.

ECSA fears the proposal could kill off the Hong Kong Convention on ship recycling.

“Without ratification of the main recycling states, the Hong Kong Convention would be dead.”

The Asian Shipowners’ Forum has also expressed “serious concern” over the proposal and the risk it poses to the implementation of the Hong Kong Convention, according to maritime news provider Lloyd’s List.

But non-governmental organisations (NGO) grouped under the NGO Shipbreaking Platform have applauded the move.

The vote “by a large majority of members of the Environment Committee of the European Parliament” to set up a fund was described as a “breakthrough”.

“The fund to create a Europe-wide ship recycling fund, an economic incentive to finance environmentally sound ship recycling and internalise the costs of proper hazardous waste management is supported by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform,” the organisation said.