European Shipowners Upbeat After Alang Visit
Ship recycling practices in Alang, India, are gradually improving, and the European Commission should acknowledge this positive development under the E.U. Ship Recycling Regulation, says the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) after members visited India. Adopting an overly restrictive approach will discourage first movers and further delay the entry into force of the IMO Hong Kong Convention, says ECSA.
Memebers went on a fact-finding visit week. The visit was organized in cooperation with the Indian government, the Gujarat Maritime Board and the Ship Recycling Industry Association (SRIA) of India. Next to European shipowners, the delegation visiting the yards included representatives from E.U. Member States, the European Commission (DG Environment) as well as the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).
Like in most other South Asian ship recycling yards, recycling operations in Alang take place in intertidal zones. South Asian yards represent the greatest part of the world’s ship recycling capacity, not only in terms of volume but also in terms of size of ships enabled to be dismantled.
The main purpose of the ECSA visit was to assess to what extent operations in intertidal zones can be sustainable and thus be potentially compliant with the provisions of the E.U. Ship Recycling Regulation. The regulation was adopted in 2013.
“We were able to visit a diverse number of yards in transparency and could take stock of progress made in terms of health, safety and environmental protection”, said ECSA Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven, “It is obvious that the implementation of standards differs considerably, but an increasing number of yards have clearly taken the responsible path towards full compliance with the Hong Kong Convention, both in letter and spirit.
“We want to ensure that the other yards are following these first movers so that the bar can be raised overall. As the Hong Kong Convention has not entered into force yet, we have encouraged these yards to apply for recognition under the E.U. Ship Recycling Regulation. In turn, we urge the Commission to assess these applications in the true spirit of the Regulation and the Convention.”
The E.U. Regulation incorporates the provisions of the Hong Kong Convention. It establishes an E.U. approved list of recycling facilities where E.U.-flagged vessels will have to be scrapped. Ship recycling yards worldwide can apply to be included on this list.
The E.U. Regulation itself does not a priori preclude yards that operate in intertidal zones from obtaining recognition. However, on April 12, the European Commission issued a set of far-reaching interpretative guidelines in the form of ‘frequently asked questions’ which will make it in practice extremely challenging for these yards to be recognized under the E.U. Regulation.
“The EU list can really play a strategic role in motivating recycling yards all over the world to be compliant with Hong Kong requirements, ahead of the entry into force of the Convention,” said ECSA Safety & Environment Director Benoît Loicq, “Last week’s visit has clearly brought new insights which show that the most progressive yards in Alang are continuously improving in terms of health, social welfare and safety conditions for workers and environmentally sound operations.”