UAE bans ship beaching in new recycling regulation

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is introducing a comprehensive ship recycling regulation aimed at curbing environmentally harmful practices and promoting responsible ship ownership.

Image Courtesy: NGO Shipbreaking Platform 2014

The UAE Ship Recycling Regulation (UAE SRR) explicitly prohibits beaching and landing activities, emphasizing the need for high-standard recycling facilities.

The new regulations come into effect concurrently with the enforcement of the revamped UAE maritime law on March 29, 2024, marking a significant overhaul after 42 years.

The previous law mandated a closed national registry, restricting ship ownership to UAE nationals or companies with 51% ownership by UAE nationals. However, the updated law opens the registry to foreign ship owners holding 100% shares, provided they establish a genuine link by having their management company based in the UAE.

The regulation applies to ship recycling facilities operating in the UAE and includes the following categories of ships:

  1. UAE-flagged ships.
  2. Foreign ships recycled in the UAE.
  3. Foreign ships where the decision to recycle was made while the vessel was in UAE waters.
  4. Foreign ships commencing the final voyage for recycling directly from UAE waters.

In addition, new ships under the UAE flag must have an Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) on board, identifying hazardous materials, their location, and quantities.

Existing UAE-flagged ships must comply with IHM requirements by June 26, 2030, or before undergoing recycling.

Ship owners are obligated to adhere to specific requirements, including notifying the administration before ship recycling, minimizing residues, and providing information for the Ship Recycling Plan.

As informed, the ship-specific recycling plan must be developed before starting any recycling activity. The plan needs explicit approval from the Maritime Administration if the recycling facility is within the UAE.

Furthermore, Port State Control inspections will verify the presence of valid certificates on board, ensuring compliance with hazardous material inventory and recycling readiness.

The timing of the UAE SRR aligns strategically with the maritime law changes, ensuring that the UAE flag attracts responsible shipowners. These shipowners are now obliged to recycle their vessels in approved facilities, adhering to high standards to ensure worker safety and environmental protection.

Unlike its predecessor, the UAE SRR explicitly bans beaching and landing practices, aligning itself with the European Ship Recycling Regulation (EU SRR). In addition to the Hazardous Materials list of the EU SRR, the UAE SRR incorporates two additional materials – Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and Brominated Flame Retardant (HBCDD) – in its hazardous material inventory.

Ships bound for scrapping are mandated to undergo recycling exclusively in facilities approved or licensed by the UAE maritime administration, either within the UAE or abroad. Foreign vessels destined for beaching or substandard recycling practices will not be permitted to enter UAE waters.

The regulation also aims to ensure that hazardous waste resulting from ship recycling is subject to strict controls, enhancing safety measures during the process.

Violations of the UAE SRR will incur penalties and legal actions, with specific details to be announced in the near future. The regulation is designed not only to enforce compliance but also to build the capacity of high-standard ship recycling facilities, promoting sustainable practices in the maritime industry, the UAE Ministry and Infrastructure said.