EU Ship Recycling Regulation: What’s in it for South Asia? (August 2014)

Shipbreaking does not feature on the headlines very often, however, this industry plays a very important role in the economies of South Asian countries. The recycling of end-of-life vessels for scrap metal and other materials is a very profitable industry for both ship-owning companies and the owners of shipbreaking yards. However, developing countries pay the highest price in terms of human lives and environmental damage, with Bangladesh, India and Pakistan on the frontline. A legal framework to counteract these sub-standard recycling practices is already in place, thanks to the Basel Convention, the International Maritime Organisation, the International Labour Organisation guidelines and the latest Hong Kong Convention. The European Union has also recently introduced the Ship Recycling Regulation (SRR) aiming to reduce the environmental and human impact of this industry, especially on the developing countries. Yet, it is a long way before the Regulation could prove its effectiveness as experts have criticised its final version. The objective of this paper is to present the issue of shipbreaking in South Asia and its characteristics and to analyse the latest European Regulation on ship recycling, contextualising it in the international legal framework.