The release of the car carrier Global Spirit, previously detained for three weeks by Belgian environmental authorities in the port of Antwerp, has been welcomed by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).
The vessel had been detained for alleged noncompliance with the European Union Waste
Shipment Regulation, originally scheduled for recycling in a non-OECD country. ICS claims that the detention was inappropriate, and that this EU Regulation was never intended for international shipping or to ships which are scheduled to be recycled. However, ICS is pleased that the local authorities have come to an understanding with the ship owner.
ICS also greatly welcomes the emphasis now being given by the Belgian authorities to the importance of the rapid entry into force of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Hong Kong Convention on Ship Recycling and its commitment to speed up Belgium’s ratification of this important Convention.
ICS fully agrees with the Belgian authorities that the entry into force of the IMO Convention ‘is the best guarantee and the only way forward for sustainable ship recycling’ throughout the global shipping industry.
ICS reiterates the following points, which were communicated by ICS to the Flemish Ministry of the Environment when the ship was still detained:
The EU European Waste Shipment Regulation, and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes (on which the EU Regulation is based) were never intended for application to international shipping or to ships which are scheduled to be recycled. This important point has been repeatedly recognized during discussions that have taken place since the Basel Convention was adopted.
The international regime pertinent to international shipping is the IMO Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. While this instrument has not yet entered into force, it is fully supported by the international shipping industry. It also provides a more relevant basis for determining whether a shipping company is meeting its responsibilities to ensure that redundant ships are indeed being recycled in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner.
All IMO Member States are therefore encouraged to work towards the ratification of the IMO Hong Kong Convention as soon as possible.
The international shipping industry is fully committed to the safe and environmentally friendly recycling of redundant ships. This is demonstrated by the development by the industry of Guidelines on Transitional Measures for Shipowners Selling Ships for Recycling, which sets out the two measures that shipowners might reasonably undertake in order to adhere to the spirit of the IMO Hong Kong Convention in advance of its entry into force.