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:
Multilateral
Form:
Legally-binding treaty
Status:
  • Convention not yet in force.
  • Signed by Canada on 27th May, 2009.
  • Canada has not ratified the Convention.
  • The Convention was adopted on May 15, 2009 at a diplomatic conference held in Hong Kong, China.
  • As of August 2018, 6 countries representing 20.42% of world shipping have ratified or acceded to the Convention.
  • Enters into force 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:
Lead:
Transport Canada
Partners:
Environment and Climate Change Canada, Labour Canada, Health Canada, Global Affairs Canada
For further information:
Web links:
International Maritime Organization
Contacts:
Transport Canada Enquiry Centre
Compendium edition:
October 2018
Reference #:
A55/EN

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.

Objective

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

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

Results / progress

Reports

TC and Environment and Climate Change Canada activities are documented in the proceedings of the IMO Councils and Committee Meetings and published on the IMO website.

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