Germany became the latest nation to accede to the IMO’s treaty for the safe and environmentally-sound recycling of ships—the Hong Kong Convention—yesterday in London. Germany’s accession marks the 13th contracting State to the Convention out of the 15 required as per the first of the three conditions for the Convention’s entry into force. These 13 countries represent 29.42 percent of the world merchant shipping tonnage—only 10.58 percent shy of the total required to satisfy the second condition of the HKC. The third and final condition requires that the combined maximum annual ship recycling volume of the countries that have ratified or acceded to the Convention is at least three percent of the gross tonnage of their combined fleets. The third condition will be met when two of the four remaining major ship recycling countries—India, Bangladesh, China or Pakistan—accede.
The Hong Kong Convention was adopted by Member States of the IMO over a decade ago with the goal 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 to the environment.” Under the treaty, each ship sent for recycling will be required to carry an inventory of hazardous materials while each recycling yard will have to provide a detailed Ship Recycling Plan to establish transparent reporting procedures. Dr. Nikos Mikelis, non-executive director of GMS and former head of the IMO’s Ship Recycling section, comments on the significance of this accession and explains why India has a key role to play for the convention to officially enter force.
“Accession by Germany, one of the major shipping nations, takes the Convention a step closer to its entry into force,” explains Mikelis, who is considered to be the “father of the HKC” for his instrumental role in its development. “With Germany’s accession, seven countries have acceded to the Convention in the last six months, which is one more than those that acceded in the previous nine years. The acceleration in the recognition amongst shipping nations of the need for the Convention to enter into force the soonest possible probably reflects growing concerns over the enforcement of the regional European Ship Recycling Regulation since the beginning of this year. What remains now is for two of the major ship recycling nations to also accede to the Convention before the ship recycling industry can start operating under a uniform global regulatory regime. India, most of whose recycling yards have invested in infrastructure, training, and working procedures and have been certificated by IACS classification societies as compliant with Hong Kong Convention, now holds the key to the Convention’s entry into force.”