City may give name to shipping convention

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 May, 2009, 12:00am

Hong Kong might lend its name to a new shipping convention that would govern the safe operation of ships and their eventual dismantling, Hong Kong Shipowners Association managing director Arthur Bowring said.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) will hold its diplomatic conference on ship recycling in Hong Kong from May 11 to 15, and it is hoped that attendees will adopt a new convention regulating ship recycling to minimise the risks to the environment and workers' health and safety.

Mr Bowring said the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships could become known as the 'Hong Kong Convention'.

The IMO, a United Nations agency dealing with shipping matters, will hold its conference at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, the first time such a conference has been held in Asia.

Patrick Chun Ping-fai, assistant director of the Marine Department, announced yesterday that the city would host the conference on a budget of HK$8 million. It is expected that about 500 delegates from more than 170 member states and associate members will attend.

'The convention, if adopted, will impose certain mandatory requirements on the design, construction and operation of ships, as well as their preparation for scrapyards at the end of their lives to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling,' Mr Chun said.

It will also regulate the operation of ship-recycling facilities to protect the health and safety of the workers and minimise adverse impact on the environment.

'Hong Kong does not have ship-recycling operations now,' he said. 'But we would still need to ensure that Hong Kong-registered ships comply with the requirements of the convention, and put in place measures to control where these ships are recycled.'

At present, there are 1,153 seagoing vessels of more than 40 million gross tonnes on the Hong Kong shipping register.

Mr Bowring said that although shipowners and operators would face additional costs, the shipping industry was supportive of the proposed convention, which originated from an industry initiative.

'We were already drafting guidelines,' he said.

Once the convention is adopted, it will require ratification by IMO members. Hong Kong must inform the IMO through the mainland if it wants to abide by the convention.