UAE takes important steps towards sustainable ship recycling

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s new Ship Recycling Regulation requires a dry dock or equivalent infrastructures for environmentally sound ship recycling. Set to take effect from June 2025, this transformative legislation effectively brings about a ban on the beaching and landing of UAE-flagged vessels as well as all foreign vessels leaving or transiting through UAE waters enroute to scrap yards.

“We applaud the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure for this bold move, which is poised to have a profound impact, particularly on the prevalent practice of delivering end-of-life vessels to cash buyers in UAE waters before their final journey to South Asian beaches,” says Nicola Mulinaris, Senior Communication and Policy Advisor at the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

Beaching is already banned in other major ship owning countries, including the European Union (EU), China and Japan. The UAE’s new rules surpass the EU Ship Recycling Regulation by banning the landing method as practiced in Aliaga, Turkey. They furthermore ban the re-flagging of vessels for the purpose of scrapping them at beaching or landing facilities.

“We strongly urge the EU to align its Ship Recycling Regulation, currently under review, with the recent steps taken by the UAE. Stopping the practice of circumventing legislation by out-flagging is crucial, and closing the avenue for employing the worst ship recycling methods, i.e., beaching and landing, is imperative for safeguarding workers’ safety and ecosystems,” says Ingvild Jenssen, Executive Director and Founder of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

The new UAE Ship Recycling Regulation aims to encourage the growth of compliant ship recycling facilities. Whilst a dry-dock facility is already conducting ship recycling in neighboring Bahrain, more dry-dock capacity that can ensure full containment of hazardous materials and pollution is needed to accommodate the many vessels that will reach the end of their lives in the coming years. 

“UAE ship owners have a track record of using beaching yards for the scrapping of their vessels. We therefore welcome the UAE government’s announcements that they will boost dry-dock capacity and ensure that all end-of-life ships in their waters only head towards facilities that operate in an environmentally sound manner. We encourage the shipping sector to join in on this effort to clean up its last act,” adds Jenssen.

Photo credit: iStock/ PeopleImages

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