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The Road Ahead for Entry into Force of Hong Kong Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships

Apr 12, 2019 1:02:00 PM

The Hong Kong Convention’s entry into force wasn’t optimistic as of beginning of 2019. The convention was supported with merely six ratifications/accessions till date earlier.

But as we move forward in 2019, four new Contracted States were included in quick succession - Turkey & the Netherlands on Jan 21 & Feb 20, followed by Republic of Serbia & Japan on 20 and 27 Mar respectively.

Japan’s accession to the Convention with its large merchant fleet and being the 1st Asian contracting state, encourages other Asian shipping countries to seriously consider & accept the Convention.  

Over the year, Japan has contributed extensively towards the realization & implementation of the Convention and its guidelines. It has been a guiding force for the development of Indian's Shipyards into a modern & HKC Compliant ship recycling industry.

Highlighting below on the 3 criteria for HKC to enter into force 24 months after the date on which they are fulfilled:

1. 15 States or more have acceded to it or ratified it; 

2. whose fleets amount to at least 40 percent of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage and

3. whose recycling facilities combined maximum annual ship recycling volume during the preceding 10 years is at least three percent of the gross tonnage of the contracting States

The Hong Kong Convention is unusual in having a third condition which ensures that there is adequate ship recycling capacity for the fleets of Contracting States before the Convention can enter into force. 

Extract from Dr. Nikos Mikelis, 2019-03-31, The Maritime Executive.

Recently, Germany and Estonia have both secured their accession to Hong Kong Convention through their Parliaments and should be delivering their instruments of accession to the IMO very soon. Also, Malta and India are known to be making progress and are expected to deliver their instruments of accession within 2019. These four countries would bring the tonnage of the 14 Contracting States to 30 percent of the world’s fleet, while also the third condition would still not be satisfied. 

If China was also to accede to the Convention, it would add its fleet which amounts to 3.8 percent of the world’s fleet. If Hong Kong was to accede at the same time as China this would add another 8.8 percent of the world’s fleet, which would satisfy the second condition. Furthermore, although China banned the import of ships for recycling from the beginning of 2019, it still has substantial legacy recycling capacity from 2012 and 2013 which will last until 2022 before it starts diminishing. This capacity is presently sufficient for the third condition to be satisfied and for the Convention to enter-into-force 24 months thereafter.

While waiting for China’s decision, flag States such as Liberia and Marshall Islands (each with a fleet of around 11 percent of the world’s tonnage) who may be ready and willing to accede to Hong Kong Convention are unfortunately restrained from accession in case their action violates the third condition.

If on the other hand China continues to show no signs that it is willing to accede to the Convention, then accession by Bangladesh will provide the necessary recycling capacity to comfortably satisfy the third condition, in which case accession by Liberia or the Marshall Islands will fulfill the second condition. 

As however the standards of most of the ship recycling industry in Bangladesh are well below the requirements of the Convention, the government of Bangladesh as well as the ship recycling yards will need to invest in the proper training of the workforce; in the creation of a facility for the treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous wastes; and in improvements in the infrastructure and working methods in the yards. To accelerate compliance to the requirements of the Convention, international technical assistance may need to be provided to Bangladesh.

In conclusion, following Japan’s accession, it appears & we hope that the entry-into-force conditions of Hong Kong Convention could be satisfied even within 2019 and therefore the Convention could enter-into-force two years later.


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