NGO Shipbreaking Platform: Record-Breaking 90% of End-of-Life Tonnage Scrapped on South Asian Beaches in 2018

ship breaking
File Photo: Katiekk / Shutterstock

A total 744 large ocean-going commercial vessels were sold to scrap yards in 2018, of which 518 were broken down on beaching yards in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, according to data from the NGO Shipbreaking Platform in its annual report on global shipbreaking practices.

According to the report, the number of ships beached accounted for a record-breaking 90.4% of the total gross tonnage dismantled globally during the year.

Shipowners from Asia, Europe and America topped the Shipbreaking Platform’s list of “worst dumpers”, i.e. ones that sell end-of-life vessels for demolition at beaching yards.

The United Arab Emirates, Greece and the United States were listed as the worst country dumpers in 2018. According to the platform, UAE owners were responsible for the highest number of ships sold to South Asian shipbreaking yards in 2018, with 61 ships in total. Greek owners beached 57 vessels out of a total of 66 sent for demolition, while U.S. owners sent 53 end-of-life vessels to beaching yards, the Platform said.

South Korea’s Sinokor Merchant Marine was named the worst corporate dumper, having sold 11 ships for breaking on the beaches in 2018.

Last year, at least 34 workers lost their lives when breaking apart the global fleet.

The Platform documented at least 14 workers that died in Alang, India, making 2018 one of one of the worse years for Indian yards in terms of accident records in the last decade. Another 20 workers died and 12 workers were severely injured in the Bangladeshi yards. In Pakistan, local sources confirmed 1 death and 27 injuries. Seven injuries were linked to yet another fire that broke out on-board a beached tanker.

“The figures of 2018 are shocking,” said Ingvild Jenssen, Executive Director and Founder of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “No ship owner can claim to be unaware of the dire conditions at the beaching yards, still they massively continue to sell their vessels to the worst yards to get the highest price for their ships. The harm caused by beaching is real. Workers risk their lives, suffer from exposure to toxics, and coastal ecosystems are devastated. Ship owners have a responsibility to sell to recycling yards that invest in their workers and environment.”