Flag states as well as Port states should take a leading role in enforcing compliance to the new International Maritime Organisation (IMO) convention aimed at ensuring clean ship recycling practices, said a senior official of the International Chamber of Shipping.
With an anticipated spike in ship recycling activities across yards in the region and worldwide, protection of the marine environment has once become a top agenda within the industry players.
Maritime organisations and environmental activists believe that authorities can take effective measures to ensure that ship recycling facilities under their jurisdiction comply with the IMO convention.
"For the IMO convention on ship recycling to be fully implemented, it will require the dedicated enforcement from flag and Port states to ensure that all lay out procedures are adhered to," Dr Nikos Mikelis, Senior Implementation Officer for the Marine Environment Division at IMO.
"Authorities should have comprehensive monitoring programs that are in line with the IMO convention and implemented at recycling yards."
Speaking at the ship recycling forum in Dubai yesterday, Mikelis said IMO was hoping to work with all member states to orientate them with the guidelines and provisions of the IMO convention on ship recycling.
IMO is currently developing a convention providing globally applicable ship recycling regulations for international shipping and for recycling activities.
A diplomatic conference is to take place in Hong Kong, China, from May 11 to 15, 2009, to consider for adoption the new international convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships.
The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) approved the text of the draft ship recycling convention for adoption at a conference in 2009, when it met for its 58th session in July 2008.
"The new convention will provide regulations for the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling, without compromising the safety and operational efficiency of ships in a safe and environmentally sound manner," said Sveinung Oftedal, a Senior Advisor in the Norwegian Ministry of Environment.
"It will also cover the safe operation of ship recycling facilities and the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling, incorporating certification and reporting requirements."
According to the IMO convention draft, ships to be sent for recycling will be required to carry an inventory of hazardous materials, specific to each ship, while an appendix to the convention will provide a list of hazardous materials whose installation or use in ships is prohibited or restricted in shipyards, ship repair yards, and ships of parties to the future convention.
Ship scrapping, a major recycling activity for shipyards in the Middle East region and Asia is expected to reach high levels this year as more vessels, especially dry bulk carriers fail to get employment due to low demand for shipping.
The phasing out of old tonnage is also expected to boost demand for ship scrapping.
"It is important to engage all stakeholders in the industry. Ship owners and recycling yards around the world need to wake up to the reality of environmental challenges and support the principles of the IMO convention," said Susan Wingfield, Senior Consultant at the United Nations Environment Program Secretariat of the Basel Convention.
Ships due for recycling will need to have an initial survey to verify the inventory of hazardous materials, surveys during the life of the ship, and a final survey prior to recycling.
Ship recycling yards will be required to provide a "Ship Recycling Plan", to specify the manner in which each ship will be recycled, depending on its particulars and its inventory.