European ship owners played a crucial role in 2015 global shipbreaking

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Ship breaking beach at Chittagong, Bangladesh (Foto: Patrizia Heidegger, NGO Shipbreaking Platform)

Brussels — In 2015, a globally total of 768 vessels had to be dismantled. These ships represented a scrap volume of around 20,4 million gross tonnage. As in previous years, South Asia remained the preferred dumping ground for ship owners looking to make the highest possible profits with end-of-life sales: Out of the total 768 large commercial vessels dismantled around the world in 2015, 469 were sold to South Asian beaching yards.

The world’s leading shipping nations account for the biggest amount of end-of-life vessels scrapped in 2015. The major ship-owning countries Greece, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Russia sent nearly all of their old vessels for breaking in substandard yards on the beaches of South Asia, that is, ship owners from these countries rarely care about proper recycling and have very little legal or economic incentives to changes their practices. Chinese ship owners sold the majority of their end-of-life vessels to ship recycling facilities within China, for which they receive subsidies from their government, while still dumping more than a fourth of their old ships on beaches.

Main ship breaking destinations (Source: NGO Shipbreaking Platform)
Main ship breaking destinations (Source: NGO Shipbreaking Platform)

European ship owners play a crucial role in the global shipbreaking scenario. The total number of EU-owned and/or EU-flagged vessels dismantled worldwide were 217 in 2015. Out of the total of ships dismantled throughout the year, EU ships represented 28,2 per cent. 138 European ship were beached in South Asia. In terms of tonnage scrapped, European-owned ships thus represented more than one third of all end-of-life vessels hitting the beaches. While some European owners show responsibility and have pledged to ensure clean and safe recycling in modern facilities, close to 64 per cent of all European vessels dismantled in 2015 ended up on a beach.

Out of the 138 European vessels beached, only 31 were still flying a European flag. 9 European-flagged vessels were flagged out to flags of convenience just before their last voyage. The most popular end-of-life flags amongst all vessels scrapped on the beaches in 2015 were Panama, St Kitts and Nevis, Liberia, Comoros and the Marshall Island, amongst which St Kitts and Nevis and the Comoros are known as end-of-life flags.

Source: NGO Shipbreaking Platform