Environmentally sound cutting of ships must be considered subsidized

Photo: Jan-Hugo Holten


By Kurt Oddekalv, manager and Jan-Hugo Holten, marine/maritime case manager at the Norwegian Environmental Protection Association (NMF)

In recent years, we have, among other things, via the Harrier case in Norway has once again put the spotlight on the fate of ship tonnage at the end of life and that much of the larger tank and bulk tonnage, Norwegian-owned and operated as well as foreign, ends up on a beach in one of the countries Pakistan, Bangladesh or India. This is a practice that has been under scrutiny for the last 20-25 years without any visible improvements in the practice being traced.

The Environmental Protection Association had a very high focus on the problem, especially in the years 1998-2002 and recorded our proposals to the Norwegian authorities at the time. There was wide coverage of our work in international shipping journals such as Tradewinds and Lloydslist. We saw at the time that there were shipowners here at home who wanted to send the tonnage to a dock in China, i.e. they wanted to be serious, and who were criticized at the time by, among others, the Shipowners' Association for not following their pace. The Norwegian Shipowners' Association is the single actor here at home who, historically speaking, in NMF's eyes, has to the greatest extent slowed down binding regulations from being implemented via the IMO. This slowdown happened because the Shipowners' Association thought they were safeguarding the interests of the shipowners when, together with representatives from the official Norway (Department and Directorate) in the IMO committee, they failed to put forward demands that became binding to a much greater extent than what we see today. Today, NR is more on the ball.

Last year, NMF addressed the Norwegian Folketrygdfondet regarding their exposure to companies that violate the recommendations given, among others, by the Shipping Association, where we have demanded that the fund withdraw. NMF has also had a meeting with DNB's people on the topic.

There is a market for environmentally sound cutting of discarded tonnage. There are companies that only work with this. There are also good forces in the Norwegian Environment Agency. The cradle to grave principle must apply to ship owners as it does to oil platform operators who have to dig deep into their pockets for an environmentally sound cutting of an offshore installation. Perhaps the regulations from offshore must be adopted for ships. the authorities in Norway must consider taking the initiative for an initial support scheme to stimulate shipowners to send the tonnage to the right yards in, among other things. Turkey, parts of Europe and China in line with fund building in other areas such as Nox.

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