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Future of ship recycling hotly debated in Singapore

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Future of ship recycling hotly debated in Singapore

Yuichi Sonoda, Secretary General of the Asian Shipowners' Forum opened the 4th TradeWinds Ship Recycling Forum with the message that The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (HKC) must be entered into force as soon as possible in order for the ship recycling industry to be considered truly safe and sustainable.

The Forum being held in Singapore got off to a fiery start with representatives from the Indian sub-continent asking keynote speakers and panelists if breaking ships on beaches would ever meet the conditions set out by the HKC.

Dr Nikos Mikelis, Head of the Marine Pollution Prevention and Ship Recycling Section of the International Marine Organisation (IMO) made a clear statement that it was "neither logical nor ethical to stop sending ships to South Asia" in spite of the current inability of many recyclers in the region to adhere to standards set out in the HKC.

Merijn Hougee of the environmental pressure group NGO Platform on Shipbreaking told delegates about a new drive to put pressure onto charterers and cargo owners to seek out shipping companies that engage in safe and environmentally sound ship recycling. Citing negative news coverage, Hougee claimed the strategy of “naming and shaming” to be highly effective in forcing the issue onto shipowners’ board room agendas.

Rounding off the morning’s discussions, Soledad Blanco, Director for Sustainable Resources Management, Industry and Air at the DG Environment’s Office of the European Commission sent a powerful video message to the participants outlining plans for a new EU Regulation currently being finalised in Brussels which draws on key elements of the HKC, and was described by delegates as potentially ‘revolutionary’. Eyes are now on Brussels for details of how the new regulations will affect shipowners and recyclers.


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Jon Chaplin

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