As of 31 December 2020 all superyachts over 500gt that are either EU flagged or that visit European ports will be required to meet the European Union (EU) Ship Recycling Regulations. There is growing concern that, with only a matter of months left until the regulations come into force, many superyachts are ill-prepared for the onset of these regulations.

“The EU Ship Recycling Regulations came into play because the EU felt that the IMO’s Hong Kong Convention, which covers the same topic on a global scale, was taking too long to ratify,” starts Edward Tuite, technical manager at British Marine. “For a convention to be ratified within the IMO it requires firstly that a certain number of members states physically ratify the convention. Secondly, those nations that have ratified the convention must account for a large enough percentage of the total tonnage represented by all member states. As it stands, the Hong Kong Convention has satisfied the first requirement, but not the second.”

At present, ship recycling is done in such a way that it is both environmentally damaging and dangerous for those that are employed to conduct it. The working practices are poor, with a number of deaths resulting from them year on year, and a significant amount of pollutant enters the water as a result of the poor standards. The Hong Kong Convention was designed to alleviate these issues but has taken far too long to do so. As a result, the EU implemented its own measures to vastly increase the standard of ship recycling within its sphere of influence.

“There are several parts to the EU Ship Recycling Regulations,” continues Tuite. “Firstly, there are the areas that the ship has to cover throughout its lifecycle. Most notably, superyacht’s are required to carry an Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) that has been signed off by the necessary flag state, which is often delegated to the relative class society. The second part of the regulation relates to the physical recycling of the yacht, which must be conducted by a certified scrappage yard that meets the required environmental standards and working practices.”

When the first stage of the regulation was implemented in December 2018, it required that all 500gt-plus new build superyachts that are either EU flagged or visiting EU ports must meet the regulations. However, as of 31 December 2020, the regulations will be rolled out to all pre-existing superyachts that meet the implementation criteria set for the new build vessels. Given that the vast majority of superyachts frequent EU ports, it thus applies to the majority of 500gt-plus superyachts.

“The superyacht community has had four years to prepare for the second stage of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation’s implementation schedule,” explains Tuite. “However, there are still concerns that the market as a whole has been too slow to react and that there will be a rush to meet the regulation’s requirements before the 30 December implementation date. Should vessels fail to meet the requirements sanctions may include fines or up to two years of jail time.”

According to the UK’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency, a UK ship owner is guilty of an offence if any of the following apply:

Annex I hazardous material is installed or used on the ship in a manner contrary to the Annex I control measures;

  • The ship does not have on board a verified IHM;
  • The ship owner does not comply with any requirement of Article 6(1) to (4) of the EU
  • regulation;
  • The ship has not been submitted for an initial, renewal or final survey when one is
  • required under Article 8 of the EU regulation.
  • A ship owner or master who is guilty of an offence on summary conviction will be liable to a fine, and on conviction on indictment to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.

For most superyachts, given the rarity of superyachts being recycled, the key focus must be on obtaining a certified IHM on board. However, it is certainly worth being aware of the requirements for recycling in the event of a total loss or otherwise unforeseeable incident. 

“While superyachts are rarely recyclable, because refitting and maintenance typically enable them to be worth more than their scrappage value, in those instances where it does occur the superyacht will be required to submit all three parts of a verified IHM to the flag state, as well as informing them at which certified yard the recycling will take place. Part two of the IHM relates to where operational waste is housed on board and part three relates to the storage of hazardous materials.”

There have been far too many instances of the superyacht community being lethargic in its adoption of new regulations and with the deadline only a matter of months away now, it is imperative that those vessels over 500gt that are EU flagged and/or visiting European ports obtain a certified IHM. British Marine has been keeping its members and Superyacht UK member up to date with all the necessary changes in regulations and has worked with ICOMIA to produce supplier IHM certificates for goods supplied to superyachts in order to ensure they comply with the regulations.

Useful links:

MGN 633
EMSA guidance
UK SI
EU regulation in full


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