India ahead of IMO on ship recycling norms

Note: The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) meeting in Nantes, France during 21-25 January 2008 had no Indian delegates. But the news report dated 28th January, 2008 does illustrate the Indian position.

IMO is developing the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. At the fifty-sixth session of IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee, the draft Convention was discussed. The Convention excludes government owned ships on non-commercial service and it willmost probably also exclude ships engaged solely in domestic voyages.

A paper presented at International Symposium on Maritime Safety, Security & Environmental Protection, Athens, September 2007 that probed the question what is the average age of recycled ships. If for example the average age of recycled ships is 30 years and there are 95,000 ships over 100 GT in the world fleet, it could be estimated that the average future recycling demand would be around 3,100-3,200 ships per year (=95,000/30).

An estimate of the average annual demand for recycling according to the Convention and if the size of the relevant fleet is, say, 44,000 ships, its average age 28 years and the percentage of the world fleet flying the flag of Parties to the Convention at some stage after its entry into force is, say, 60%, then the requested estimate would be around 940 ships per year (=0.6*44,000/28).

India ahead of IMO on ship recycling norms

International Maritime Organisation (IMO) appears to be following the Indian course in fixing norms for the regulation of the ship recycling industry. Dr Nikos Mikelis, secretary of IMO, made this observation while addressing a large gathering of personages from various countries who were participating in a national workshop held recently.

The IMO-sponsored workshop on 'Development of the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships' was held at Maritime Training Institure, Mumbai, on January 8, 2008.

"India's national mandatory requirements appear to be very similar to those being developed at the IMO," he said.

"From the limited review of the initial decision of the Supreme Court of India in the case of the dismantling of the Blue Lady, it appeared that the new regime governing ship recycling in India is surprisingly similar to the draft text of the new convention. If the requirements imposed by the decision of the Supreme Court of India are aligned with the draft requirements of the new convention as understood and described, and if they can be further aligned if necessary to the final requirements of the adopted convention then there would be no serious impediments in the way of India ratifying the new convention nor would there appear to be any major requirements for recycling in excess of what is being already required by the decision of the Supreme Court."

"The two scenarios for India are to be a provider of recycling services either as a party or non-party to the convention," said Dr Mikelis. "If India does not ratify the convention its facilities will continue to compete with facilities in non-participating states for ship recycling which do not comply with the convention and also any convention ships which may chose to flag to non-convention flag prior to recycling. Conversely, if India does become a party, it will have access to a potentially large market of ships which comply or conform to the convention.

However, it has to be understood that no singular recycling state will be able to dominate the convention as more ships will always flag out of the convention if the pricing in the convention becomes too competitive."

"The government is answerable to no less than the Supreme Court to implement guidelines which have been handed down by it and which are remarkably very similar to the ones which are founded by the IMO workshop," said Kiran Dhingra, director general of shipping, government of India, who attended the workshp as the chief guest. "We are confident that convention or no convention, India will fully achieve safe and clean environmental conditions in its recycling industry for its beaches and for its workers."

Ms Dhingra further pointed out that ship recycling is an industry that is currently only available in the less developed or developing countries. If the mandatory instrument is to meet with global acceptance and not to divide the world into convention and non-convention parties.

It would be necessary to find time and effort to understand the nuances of the ship recycling business. It should be done in such a way that if a major ship recycling industry were to remain non conventional, parties and ship owners were able to circumvent the convention restrictions of 'No truck' with non-convention parties merely by a change of platform. Or if it is due to an incomplete understanding of doing business, loopholes were to be left in the provision of the instruments that if exploited would defeat the purpose. "We will assure you of our own sincerity in promoting a consensus that will ensure global cooperation in environmentally sustainable development," she said.

28 Jan, 2008

The Economic Times

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