Shipowners still have not improved shipbreaking practice, says NGO

In spite of mounting pressure from governments and lobbyists, during 2015 shipowners continued to scrap vessels at shipbreaking yards known to pollute the environment and have dangerous working conditions, NGO Shipbreaking Platform said today.

The worst culprits are Greek shipowners, who last year sold 87 ships to South Asian shipbreaking yards – more than any other nation, according to the NGO’s data. “Backed by the Greek government, they continue to refuse liability for the damage done to workers and the environment in South Asia,” NGO Shipbreaking Platform commented.

The organisation said the worst individual dumper during 2015 was Idan Ofer, the head of Quantum Pacific Group and a major shareholder in Israel Corporation and Zim Integrated Shipping Services. Together, Quantum Pacific and Zim sold nine vessels for breaking at “substandard” yards last year, the highest number sold by business entities controlled by one individual. Six were sold to Bangladeshi buyers, where the NGO says “conditions are known to be worst”.

The lobby group also called out a list of shipowners that have publically promoted sustainable shipping initiatives and technologies onboard their vessels, but have nevertheless scrapped ships at Bangladeshi yards. The NGO named the offending companies as Hyundai and Hanjin of South Korea, Taiwan’s Evergreen, and Japan’s MOL, K-Line and Toyofuji.

“Despite a lot of international attention on the problems of shipbreaking on the beaches of South Asia, the statistics for 2015 show that the vast majority of shipowners have not changed their practice for the better. On the contrary, most have opted for one of the worst shipbreaking destination in the world – Bangladesh – where children are still illegally exploited to break ships manually on tidal mudflats,” Patrizia Heidegger, director of NGO Shipbreaking Platform, said in a statement.

The European Union’s list of approved ship recycling facilities worldwide is expected to be published by the end of this year, which the NGO says will be a key tool with which cargo owners, investors and governments can apply pressure on shipowners to recycle vessels at approved facilities.

“The NGO Shipbreaking Platform therefore demands that shipping companies and their investors only allow their vessels to go to yards listed on the EU list. Moreover, governments of the world’s leading maritime nations, such as Greece and Germany, must likewise take steps to ensure national use of the EU list,” the organisation said.

“Introducing a financial incentive based on the polluter pays principle would go a far way in pushing irresponsible shipowners towards sustainable ship recycling.”


Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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