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Ship dismantling

Vodní cesty
Ship dismantling

Evropská směrnice pro lodě na konci životnosti..


Worldwide, between 200 and 600 large end-of-life ships are broken up and recycled every year, as their steel, other scrap metal and equipment constitute valuable raw materials. Most of this ship dismantling nowadays takes place in South Asia, on tidal beaches and under primitive conditions. While the industry provides thousands of jobs for migrant workers, a lack of environmental protection and safety measures leads to high accident rates, health risks and extensive pollution of coastal areas. Older ships contain many hazardous materials, including asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), tributyl tin and large quantities of oils and oil sludge.

As many ships sail under the flag of an EU member state, and even more are owned by European companies, the situation is of concern to the EU. Community legislation is affected in so far as it prohibits the export of hazardous waste to developing countries.

This webpage gives information about the problem and the activities at international and EU level to improve the conditions of ship dismantling.

EU strategy for better ship dismantling

On 19 November 2008 the Commission adopted a Communication on "An EU Strategy for better ship dismantling". de fr (pdf~70Kb)

Impact Assessment

Press release "Commission presents EU strategy for safer ship dismantling".

A public consultation on the Commission Communication for "An EU Strategy for better ship dismantling" took place from April to June 2009 (see consultation document. Contributions in the context of this consultation are saved here. A summary of the contributions can be accessed here.

A stakeholder workshop was organised on the 9 June 2009. The presentations and minutes of the workshop can be acessed here.

A stakeholder workshop was organised on the 23 October 2009. Presentations can be acessed here.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on the Communication in a resolution of 26 March 2009 and the Council adopted conclusions on the 21 October 2009.

Green Paper on better ship dismantling

On 22 May 2007, the European Commission has adopted a Green Paper on better ship dismantling:

A public consultation on the Green Paper took place from May to September 2007. Contributions in the context of this consultation are saved here. Short summary of these contributions (as of 15 October 2007) (pdf~20KB).

The European Parliament commented on the Green Paper and called for action at EU level in a resolution of 21 May 2008.

The Commission has assessed the impacts of an EU strategy for better ship dismantling, taking into account the results of the Green Paper consultation, and intends to publish a Communication on this issue in autumn 2008.

Background information

  • Environmental Commissioner Dimas' speech of 25 April 2006 (pdf~521Kb)

  • European Community law on waste shipments:
    Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2006 on shipments of waste prohibits the export of hazardous waste from the Community to non-OECD countries.
    With special regard to ships, recital 35 of this regulation reads:
    "It is necessary to ensure the safe and environmentally sound management of ship dismantling in order to protect human health and the environment. Furthermore, it should be noted that a ship may become waste as defined in Article 2 of the Basel Convention and that at the same time it may be defined as a ship under other international rules. It is important to recall that work is ongoing, involving inter-agency cooperation between International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the Secretariat of the Basel Convention, to establish mandatory requirements at the global level ensuring an efficient and effective solution to the problem of ship dismantling."

    For the text of the regulation and more details see the waste shipment webpage

    Case-law on export of end-of-life ships:

  • Developing an EU strategy for environmentally sound ship dismantling is an element of the Commission's Action Plan for An Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union, see p. 16.
    For further information on EU Maritime Policy see here.

  • Studies and research projects of the European Commission on ship dismantling:


    Recent and ongoing research projects (DG Research):

    • SHIPDISMANTL Cost-effective and environmentally sound dismantling of obsolete vessels. The project was funded with 1.5m EUR under the 6th European Research Framework Programme (FP6).

    • SHIPMATES Shiprepair to maintain transport which is environmentally sustainable. The project was funded with 2.150.000 EUR under the 6th European Research Framework Programme (FP6).

    • DIVEST Dismantling of Vessels with Enhanced Safety and Technology. Project foreseen under the 7th European Research Framework Programme (FP7).

  • Work of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) on ship recycling:
    See website.

  • Ship Recycling Convention / current work in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO):

    The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has just adopted the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. The new instrument takes a "cradle to grave approach" and will regulate:

    • the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling, without compromising their safety and operational efficiency.
    • the operation of ship recycling facilities in a safe and environmentally sound manner; and
    • the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling (certification / reporting).

    Text of the Convention adopted during the Diplomatic Conference held between 11 and 15 May 2009 in Honk Kong, China (pdf~284Kb) .

    IMO Guidelines on Ship Recycling
    These non-binding guidelines were adopted by the IMO Assembly in December 2003 and amended in December 2005.
    For this and further information, see IMO website.

  • Basel Convention: The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is relevant for ship dismantling, as a ship that is sent for scrapping usually contains hazardous materials and may be (hazardous) waste as well as a ship under other international conventions. The Conferences of the Parties (COPs) of the Basel Convention have adopted Technical Guidelines and various decisions on this issue, and the Secretariat has collected information on ship dismantling. For further information see the website.

In January 2008, the EU submitted to the Basel Convention Secretariat an Assessment on ship dismantling with particular reference to the levels of control and enforcement established by the Basel Convention and the expected level of control and enforcement to be provided by the draft Ship Recycling Convention in their entirety.

The Industry Working Group on Ship Recycling has in July 2007 agreed on a recommendation concerning "Interim Measures for Shipowners Intending to Sell Ships for Recycling" .

In October 2007, the International Ship Recycling Association (I.S.R.A.) was founded with the aim to promote sustainable ship recycling and create a level playing field for operators worldwide. See website http://www.isra-dis.com/.

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