Danish shipowners boss ‘not proud’ her country has not ratified HK Convention

Shipping’s extremely divergent views on ship recycling were in plan view this morning at the start of Danish Maritime Days, the week long set of shipping events in Copenhagen.

Sustainable Shipping, a conference held at the Danish Shipowners’ Association headquarters, brought together owners, regulators and NGOs.

Anne Steffensen, director-general, of Danish Shipowners’ Association, got the event off to a contentious start with a frank admission. “It is not good enough that just three countries have ratified the Hong Kong Convention,” she said, in reference to the International Maritime Organization’s 2009 ship recycling rulings. Only Norway, France and the Congo have ratified the convention to date.

“I am not proud that Denmark has not ratified it yet,” Steffensen, a former ambassador to the UK, added.

Berit Halam, deputy head of division at the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, said that ratification of Hong Kong Convention is under preparation. “We have encountered some technical and legal issues that are under clarification,” she said. By early next year, she said the government would be in a position to present what she described as “a roadmap to ratification”.

Emilien Gasc, the European Commission policy officer for ship recycling, told delegates that with the European Union’s upcoming strict list of approved facilities around the world: “Shipowners willing to do the right thing are no longer alone. We will find the right facilities for you and control the right facilities.”

“It is very clear that there are major issues,” Gasc said in regards to standards at yards in South Asia.

Ingvild Jenssen, a special adviser to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, said: “Demand from shipowners themselves for sustainable ship recycling is what will change the industry.” This demand would build up the necessary capacity of decent recycling yards, she reckoned.

Nevertheless, Jenssen said there already existed enough capacity of decent recycling yards. “There is a lot of underutilised capacity in China, in Turkey and in Europe,” she said.

NGO Shipbreaking Platform wants to see all owners use just EU-listed facilities.

A spokesperson for the Danish Shipowners’ Association commented: “In an ideal world we would like to only recommend EU-listed facilities,” but that this was unrealistic at present, the spokesperson maintained, and were this to be case it would likely see lots of ships reflagging outside of Europe.

Danish shipowner Clipper detailed its views on shipbreaking via its head of legal, Thomas Martinussen. Martinussen said he was looking forward to getting the Hong Kong Convention ratified so as to level the playing field. Having recently scrapped a 9,000-dwt MPP at Alang, Martinussen was keen to stress the differing levels of quality at India’s main shipbreaking region.

“Yards at Alang are often criticised – but we believe that you do not lump all yards together as there are huge differences at the yards in Alang,” he said.

Sustainable Shipping is one of 81 events taking place during Danish Maritime Days.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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