It is ten years to the day since most of the media published an article deploring the terrible practices employed by ship breakers on third world beaches such as Alang in India, and over twelve years since the Indian Supreme Court made an order regarding how the problems of this deadly trade could be controlled. Now it seems someone may actually be taking notice.
Last week the Indian government ratified the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (HKC) a decision welcomed by many, including the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). Adopted in May 2009, the Convention will ensure that ships are recycled in a safe, environmentally friendly and transparent manner, providing global oversight to an economically and environmentally essential industry.
India is a major ship recycling nation, and in 2018, India received more than 250 vessels of almost five million gross tonnes, amounting to between 25-35% of the world’s recycling tonnage. The decision therefore by the Government of India to begin steps towards ratifying the HKC is a significant one.
The ICS comprises the worlds’ national ship owners associations from Asia, Europe, the Americas and Africa. The organisation therefore represents the views for the substantial majority of international shipping and within its portfolio, as well as environmental issues such as this, it covers regulatory, legal, trade policy and technical issues and the development and promotion of best practice throughout the global industry. Speaking on the decision to embrace the HKC, Guy Platten, ICS Secretary General said:
“ICS welcomes the accession of India to the Hong Kong Convention. This is a major step towards guaranteeing the safe and environmentally sound management of ship recycling throughout the ships entire lifecycle. There has been a general trend towards compliance with the requirements of the Convention by both the shipping and recycling industries, and real strides have been made in improving working conditions by recyclers.
”India’s action is a further sign of this global determination to bring ship recycling practices under a single legal framework, and we are hopeful that it will spur other major recycling States, particularly China and Bangladesh to ratify and make the Convention a reality as soon as possible.”