On the eve of the Hong Kong Convention’s 10th anniversary, Malta became the latest to accede to the IMO’s treaty for the safe and environmentally-sound recycling of ships. Malta’s accession marks the 12th nation to ratify/accede to the Convention out of the 15 required as per the first of the three conditions for the Convention’s entry into force. Including Malta, these 12 countries represent more than 28.8 percent of the world merchant shipping tonnage—only 11.2 percent fewer than 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 10 years ago on May 15, 2009 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. Of the 12 countries that ratified or acceded to the Convention, six—Japan, Turkey, Netherlands, Serbia, Malta and Estonia—did so in the last four months. Dr. Nikos Mikelis, non-executive director of GMS and former head of the IMO’s Ship Recycling section, comments on the significance of this recent growth.
“It is gratifying, after two years of no new ratifications, to witness in the last four months six more countries ratifying/ acceding to the Convention,” said Mikelis, who is considered to be the “father of the HKC” for his instrumental role in its adoption. “This accelerated uptake of Hong Kong Convention by governments must surely reflect the international recognition of the significant efforts and investments made by so many recycling yards in India, a development that is now starting in Bangladesh.”