Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Asian Ship Owning Commitment to Ethical Recycling of Vessels

Ship Owners Wait for China to Ratify Agreement
Shipping News Feature

ASIA – WORLDWIDE – Despite the opprobrium heaped upon it, the dirty secret of the world's merchant fleet continues it seems, with the latest news showing there are still many unscrupulous dealers in the market prepared to flaunt the rules of ethical ship breaking.

Last month saw the 25th Interim Meeting of the Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA) Ship Recycling Committee. The ASA is a voluntary organisation of the ship owner associations of Australia, China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and the Federation of ASEAN Shipowners’ Associations comprising shipping associations of ASEAN countries, and whose members account for around 50% of the world's cargo carrying fleet.

The first point of note is that the surge in demand for cargo carrying space has meant that ship recycling volume requirements in 2021 did not grow as expected, static at around 24.3 million DWT, and the year 2022 is expected to be about the same as 2021. This however may be the lull before the storm as, according to Clarksons Research, 2023 demand is projected to reach 45.5 million DWT due to the impact of more stringent environmental regulations and wider ‘green’ pressure, which accelerates the breaking of many more aged vessels.

This prompted the ASA SRC to reconfirm that there is an urgent need to develop SOC certified yards in multiple countries as possible receivers of any such future strong demand as well as for reducing risks when a pandemic like Covid-19 emerges. The meeting agreed that, for many owners, ethically responsible recycling was still not high on the agenda.

The Committee decreed that this meant, despite some more owners taking their responsibilities on board, that the recognition that the IMO’s Hong Kong Convention (HKC) coming into force will be essential to change the approach by a mandatory international ruling. It was decided that 2022 was a vital year for taking this process forward.

The meeting was an online event and the members present put the spotlight firmly on China to move matters on, with the country ‘holding the trigger’ for the early fulfilment of the HKC’s requirements. The ASA said it hoped China would ratify within the year and it would pressurise the authorities there to do so.

Elsewhere it was welcomed that India was accelerating the growth of HKC green yards due to motivation from ship owners and felt it would be a positive move to witness the same level of commitment from Bangladesh. Again pressure from owners needed to be employed to get the country to ratify the HKC by Q1 of 2023.

The ASA once again decreed its firm commitment to global environmental conservation through the promotion of ethical ship recycling.

Photo: Beaches such as those at Alang have long been scenes of death and pollution, something the HKC is designed to eliminate.