IMO''s treaty for safe and environmentally-sound ship recycling has received another boost as Japan has become the 10th country to become a Party to the Hong Kong Convention.

The Convention covers the design, construction, operation and maintenance of ships, and preparation for ship recycling in order to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling, without compromising the safety and operational efficiency of ships.

Under the treaty, ships are required to carry an Inventory of Hazardous Materials, specific to each ship. Ship recycling yards are required to provide a "Ship Recycling Plan", specific to each individual ship to be recycled, specifying the manner in which each ship will be recycled, depending on its particulars and its inventory.

The Contracting States to the Hong Kong Convention are now: Belgium, Denmark, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Panama, the Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Serbia and Turkey. They now represent approximately 23.16% of the gross tonnage of the world's merchant shipping.

It was the shocking environmental and human rights abuses that took and take place at the south Asian ship recycling yards that has driven the Hong Kong Convention into existence.

By Jake Frith