A Diplomatic Conference to adopt an international convention on the recycling of ships was opened in Hong Kong, China, by the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, on Monday, 11 May 2009. The convention, the first ever to address ship recycling issues, is aimed at ensuring 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.
In his opening remarks, Mitropoulos paid tribute to the contribution to the work of IMO made by Asia - “a region the leadership role of which in shipbuilding, shipowning, ship manning and ship recycling is recognized and duly appreciated worldwide”. He told delegates that the conference represented the culmination of intense endeavors over several years to tackle the issue of ship recycling in a manner that will embrace the subject both from its ship-based aspects and those relating to facilities ashore.
“For countries that are active in the disposal of end-of-life ships, and for others aspiring to invest in this industry, ship recycling provides opportunities for employment and an economic and trading venture for tens of thousands of people, particularly in communities that are not among the wealthiest in the world. It also constitutes an activity that, by its very nature, is also regarded as environmentally beneficial - not to mention the wider re-use of most of a ship’s fabric, materials, machinery, equipment and fittings. The fact that everything that constitutes a ship today may, tomorrow, pass on for use in the construction and ancillary industries; in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors; in small factories; in hospitals and other emergency centres; in hotels and households, displays another dimension of the activity that will occupy our minds this week. This makes it imperative that we intensify our efforts to ensure the success of the Conference, thus also ensuring that the convention we have come here to adopt, on the one hand lifts the safety and environmental levels of ships, recycling facilities and those who are employed on both and, on the other, does not interfere inadvertently with the vital process of constant renewal, thus creating an all-inclusive regulatory regime of the kind that has been among the hallmarks of IMO.”
The Conference was also addressed by Donald Tsang, Chief Executive of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and the President of the Conference, Xu Zuyuan, Vice-Minister for Transport of the People’s Republic of China.
The five-day Conference, being held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC), is taking place under the auspices of IMO, the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for safety and security at sea and prevention of marine pollution from ships, and is being organized with the support of the Government of China and the Marine Department of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The Conference is the first such event that IMO has ever held in Asia and is being attended by delegations from some 66 IMO Member States and two Associate Members.
The following were elected as officers of the Conference:
President, Xu Zuyuan, Vice-Minister for Transport, People’s Republic of China
Vice Presidents, Binyah Kesselly, Commissioner, Bureau of Maritime Affairs, Liberia, Liliana Fernández Puentes, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Panama to IMO
Captain Suat Hayri AKA, Deputy Undersecretary for Transport, Turkey
Chairman, Committee of the Whole, Andreas Chrysostomou (Cyprus), Chairman of IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC)
Chairman, Drafting Committee, Charles Darr, Office of Maritime and International Law, United States Coast Guard, United States
Other officers will be elected as the Conference progresses.