Photo: Ship breaking practices have become a hot topic in the shipping sector due to recent legal and ideological developments. Photo by SSN.

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The business of responsible ship breaking

By Marnix Viergever

In the maritime media there is a strong focus on the ship building sector. Obviously ship construction creates a lot of business opportunities and journalists are eager to reveal new maritime trends and technologies. Ship breaking, on the other hand, is not a popular topic as it is often associated with beached vessels in developing countries. Nevertheless, ship breaking practices have become a hot topic in the shipping sector due to recent legal and ideological developments.

At the coasts of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan over two third of all seagoing vessels end up for scrapping. These ship breaking beaches are infamous because of the poor labor conditions and environmental problems. Local workers often have to work long hours and are exposed to dangerous materials during the dissembling process. Furthermore, residual fuel and other hazardous goods, which cannot be reused, are generally left on the beach or dumped in the sea, causing significant damage to the local environment. Even though the bad conditions in South Asia’s ship breaking yards are common knowledge, many ship owners still let their vessels be scrapped in this region for financial reasons.

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