Agreement on safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships: Hong Kong Convention

Official title: Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 (Hong Kong Convention)

Subject category:
Marine / Oceans
Type of agreement / instrument:
Legally-binding treaty
  • Convention not yet in force internationally.
  • Canada has not ratified this agreement and, therefore, it is not in force in Canada.
  • Signed by Canada: n/a
  • The Convention was adopted on May 15, 2009 at a diplomatic conference held in Hong Kong, China.
  • As of September 2021, 17 countries representing 29,77% of world shipping have ratified or acceded to the Convention. The recycling tonnage of these countries during the last preceding 10 years is 13 950 584, which represent approximatively 2.43% of their combined merchant fleet.
  • The Convention enters into force internationally 24 months after the date on which 15 States, representing 40% of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage and on average 3% of the recycling tonnage of the preceding 10 years, have signed the Convention without reservation as to ratification, acceptance or approval.
Lead & partner departments:
Transport Canada
Environment and Climate Change Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, Health Canada, Global Affairs Canada
For further information:
Web links:
International Maritime Organization
Transport Canada Enquiry Centre
Compendium edition:
February 2022
Reference #:

Plain language summary

Ship recycling is recognised as the most environmentally sound method to dispose of ships at end of life, as most of ship’s materials can be re-used/re-purposed. However, current methods for ship recycling also make it one of the most dangerous occupations in the world, threatening human lives and negatively impacting our environment. The Hong Kong Convention sets out requirements designed to reduce the environmental impact and improve the health and safety of current ship recycling practices worldwide.


The Convention is aimed at ensuring ships, when being recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives, do not pose any unnecessary risks to human health, safety and to the environment.

Key elements & expected results

The Hong Kong Convention intends to address all the issues around ship recycling, including the fact that ships sold for scrap may contain environmentally hazardous substances such as asbestos, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, ozone-depleting substances and others. It also addresses concerns raised about the working and environmental conditions at many of the world’s ship recycling locations.

The text of the Hong Kong Convention was developed over three and a half years, with input from International Maritime Organization (IMO) Member States and relevant non-governmental organizations, and in co-operation with the International Labour Organization and the Parties to the Basel Convention.

Regulations in the Convention cover:

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

Canada’s involvement

Canada participated in the development and attended the Diplomatic Conference where the Convention was adopted.

Canada has not ratified the Convention but continues to monitor the international progress towards meeting its entry into force conditions.

Transport Canada (TC) leads a delegation to IMO discussions on the Convention.

Results / progress


Canada continues to support the general intent of the Hong Kong Convention and is actively assessing the Convention requirements.


Canada’s activities are documented in the proceedings of the IMO Councils and Committee Meetings and published on the IMO web site.

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