UK: new strategy to improve conditions of ship recycling –

UK: new strategy to improve conditions of ship recycling Published:  30 March, 2006

A NEW strategy outlining the changes needed to improve the conditions in which ships are recycled has been published today for consultation by Defra. Recycling ships in itself is an inherently sustainable activity: 95% of a ship’s material can be reused or recycled. However there is collective concern about the adequacy of the health, safety and environmental standards of ship recycling yards, particularly in developing countries. While international negotiations are underway to develop a legally binding instrument to ensure the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships, it is likely to be several years before it enters into force. Ben Bradshaw, Local Environmental Quality Minister, said that the status quo was not working and that in the absence of effective international rules, the UK has a responsibility to do more to secure sustainable ship-recycling practices. “Significant changes must be made if Government-owned and commercial ships are to be recycled in acceptable conditions, this certainly isn’t a given. “In some developing countries for example, workers can be exposed to an extremely dangerous work environment, with high accident rates in poorly regulated yards. Poor conditions can also lead to significant pollution of the local environment where recycling takes place. It is unacceptable for us to simply ignore this. “Until an internationally recognised regime for recycling vessels is in force, we need to be clear on the standards we expect, and indeed lead the way by making sure that Government-owned vessels are dealt with to standards we would expect in our own country.” Based on current estimates, there are approximately 30 MOD vessels scheduled to come out of operation by 2013. For commercial vessels, nearly 400 EU flagged ships will require recycling by 2010. The draft proposals provide:

* New guidance on the sale or recycling of Government-owned vessels which includes additional conditions in sales contracts to ensure that new owners takes full responsibility for the safe recycling of the vessels, allowing recycling only in facilities meeting acceptable standards and stronger controls on vessels exported outside the UK.

* Recommendations for UK ship owners clarifying international and European obligations for the import and export of vessels to and from the UK.

* Recommendations for recycling facilities including expanding capacity to relieve current limited options available to ship owners and upgrading existing facilities in developing countries to ensure improved conditions for workers and the environment.

Defra has also today issued draft guidance – An overview of the ship recycling process in the UK – to improve understanding of the regulatory framework and to signpost assistance available to those who wish to recycle ships in the UK. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.