After fourteen years since adoption by the International Maritime Organization, the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (Hong Kong Convention) will enter into force. It comes after Bangladesh and Liberia ratified the Convention.

The move is welcomed by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), which is happy with the leadership shown by both principal ship recycling country Bangladesh and the world’s second largest ship registry, the Liberian Registry.

The Hong Kong Convention aims to ensure that ships when being recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives, do not pose any unnecessary risk to human health and safety or the environment.

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Entry into force in two years

Bangladesh ratified the Hong Kong Convention on 12 June 2023, and Liberian Registry’s positive commitment on 26 June has allowed all the requirements to be met to successfully bring the much-anticipated Convention into force. The Hong Kong Convention enters into force 24 months after ratification by fifteen states, representing forty per cent of the world’s merchant shipping by gross tonnage, with a combined maximum annual ship recycling volume not less than three per cent of their combined tonnage.

The Convention had been adopted by IMO as eary as 15 May 2009.

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‘Sea change for the industry’

‘This marks a sea change for this global industry and confirms that in the near future shipowners will be confident that their vessels will find a safe and environmentally sound destination for recycling,’ says John Stawpert, Senior Manager (Environment and Trade) of the ICS. ‘The importance of the Convention entering into force, and what it means for ship recycling worldwide cannot be underestimated.’

Stawpert concludes: ‘Entry into force confirms the huge progress made in safe and environmentally sound ship recycling that has been driven by the Convention since its adoption in 2009 and realises the globally compliant market into which ships must now be sold, giving shipowners confidence and legal certainty that end-of-life vessels will be recycled properly.’

Picture by Stéphane M Grueso from Madrid, Spain (Wikimedia Commons).

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