IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee this week agreed on a way forward on the ship recycling issue with the development of a draft Resolution and Guidelines for ship recycling, both of which it is hoped will be approved at the 2003 IMO Assembly meeting.

A rough outline was given of the draft Guidelines including, amongst other topics, the possibility of green passports from the ship builder, incentive schemes for ship owners, the application of the Guidelines to new and existing ships, the role of both the flag and port state, and also the relations of the various stakeholders, e.g. the recycling yard, the ship builder and the ship owner. In addition, the Industry Code of Practice was well received by the IMO and will be used extensively in the development of the Guidelines as they apply to ships and the ship owner.

Further to this, the working group that was established at the meeting to focus on ship recycling also drafted a response regarding the application of the Basel Convention to ships. The Basel Convention prohibits the export of waste from developed to developing countries. There has been some debate recently regarding the applicability of ships under this Convention. However, both the legal and technical working groups of the Basel Convention, which met in January this year, were unable to reach a conclusion as to whether a ship being sent for demolition is waste under the definitions of the Convention. Following these meetings in January, the Basel working groups requested IMO to clarify the definition of a ship. The recycling working group at IMO produced answers on the basis that a ship was not waste if it continued to comply with IMO legislation. It is INTERTANKO’s understanding that the Basel Convention does not then apply to ships.

Amongst the member states, industry representatives and other NGOs working on this issue at IMO this week, it is interesting to note that Greenpeace International also contributed to the working group and worked constructively to help develop the Resolution and Guidelines through the relevant international body, namely the IMO. It appears, therefore, that Greenpeace International sees that the most appropriate way forward on this issue is through the development of Guidelines which cover not only the ship owning aspect but all the stakeholders in the recycling chain, from the builder to the breaker.

Contact: Tim Wilkins,