The video by National Geographic provides an insight into working conditions in one of the world’s largest ship recycling yards. Shipbreaking is considered as one of the world’s most dangerous jobs. Men desperate for work demolish ships in grueling conditions, braving the threat of being crushed or stabbed by steel sliced from the hulls.
On Monday, the EU member states’ experts on ship recycling met in Brussels to discuss the latest developments, six months ahead of the application of the 2013 Ship Recycling Regulation, with a special focus on China’s recent decision to stop the import of end-of-life ships for scrapping, which is expected to affect shipbreaking industry.
A total of 133 ships were dismantled in Turkey in 2017, including several drill ships and platforms. Although Turkish yards are preferred option for responsible ship recycling compared to South Asian yards, such as Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, they still face considerable challenges including high accident rate.
Pollutant and dangerous scrapping has been a key area of concern for Pakistani ship recycling industry. As in India and Bangladesh, the yards in Gadani operate directly on the beach, without any impermeable and drained working areas to protect the sea and sand from pollution.
Dirty and dangerous shipbreaking practices in Bangladesh have been strongly criticized both by global NGOs for many years, with marine pollution, hazardous waste dumping and unsafe working conditions, as well as the illegal exploitation of child workers, being among the key areas of concern.
The issue of unsustainable ship recycling, with hazardous working practices and environmental pollution, mostly in Southeast Asian yards, has been for several years a key area of concern for global NGOs and the international shipping industry. The problem in Alang was first documented by Greenpeace in 1998.
The shipping industry will scrap the largest number of oil tankers this year. This amount of scrapping constitutes a seven-year high record. This will be caused by weak earnings, and the need to prepare for the new stricter environmental regulations. Almost 10.3 million deadweight tonnes have been sold for demolition from January to April.
The legal requirements for sustainable ship recycling have become a pressing issue for all ships, no matter if they are brand new or very old.
On the occasion of China’s recently-announced plans to stop permitting foreign-flagged vessels to be dismantled at its shipyards, the International Ship Recycling Association noted that this decision is challenging for the ship recycling industry as a whole, as it could force shipowners to accept lower standards.
A group of international shipowners’ associations met in Hong Kong on 14th May to consider the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally-Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009. The Global Shipowners’ Meeting reaffirmed its commitment to the Hong Kong Convention and the need for environmentally sustainable ship recycling.
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