India accedes to IMO’s green ship recycling treaty

India, one of the world’s five major ship recycling nations, has acceded to the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) Hong Kong Convention, the treaty that will set global standards for safe and environmentally-sound ship recycling.

Shipping Secretary Gopal Krishna and the Director General of Shipping Amitabh Kumar deposited the instrument of accession to the treaty with IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim on Thursday during the 31 session of the IMO Assembly, which is currently underway in London.

India’s accession brings this key convention a significant step closer to entering into force, with the required 15 States now party to it and with India’s ship recycling volume considerably contributing to the required recycling capacity, Natasha Brown, Media and Communications Officer at IMO, said.

The Hong Kong Convention covers the design, construction, operation and maintenance of ships to ensure they can be recycled safely and in an environment-friendly way at the end of their lives. It also deals with how ships should be prepared for their final voyage to a recycling facility, without compromising their safety or operational efficiency.

Under the Hong Kong Convention, ships sent for recycling are required to carry an inventory of all hazardous materials on board. Ship recycling facilities are required to provide a “Ship Recycling Plan”, specifying how each ship will be recycled, based on its particular characteristics and its inventory of hazardous materials.

The treaty will enter into force 24 months after three separate criteria have been met: It must be ratified by 15 States – but these States must represent 40 per cent of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage, and a combined maximum annual ship recycling volume (during the preceding 10 years) of not less than 3 per cent of their combined gross tonnage.

With India’s accession, the number of States required has now been reached, but further tonnage and recycling volumes are needed before the convention can enter into force.

The top five ship recycling countries in the world, between them accounting for more than 98 per cent of all ship recycling by gross tonnage are Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan and Turkey.

IMO Secretary-General Lim hailed India’s accession to the treaty and urged other States, in particular those with a considerable ship recycling volume, to become party to the treaty as soon as possible. “What happens to ships at the end of their lifetime is an important global issue with major consequences for safety and the environment,” Lim said. “I urge all countries yet to do so to ratify this important convention so it can enter into force and provide a consistent, global regulatory regime for this vital industry,” he added.