TAX CONFERENCE

The recently enacted "American Jobs Creation Act" gives significant tax breaks to a number of U.S. industries--including shipping.

MARINE LOG and BLANK ROME will present a senior level seminar CHANGES IN U.S. TAXATION OF SHIPPING INCOME in Stamford, Conn. on April 5 & 6, 2004

Make sure you know how the new tax rules work!

February 21, 2005

Environmentalists slam ship scrapping meeting

A Joint Working Group on ship scrapping established by IMO, the International Labor Organization and the Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal concluded its first meeting at IMO headquarters in London last week--and environmentalists weren't happy with the outcome.

Greenpeace and the Basel Action Network (BAN) say that "the meeting was hijacked by the shipping industry interests throughout, blocking any attempts to clean up the practice of exporting toxic laden vessels to Asia, risking the health of workers and the environment."

"The meeting could be called a victory for dumping-as-usual--and a source of temporary satisfaction for a shipping industry that does not wish to change its ways, and for those states that support this irresponsible industry--most notably Norway, Japan, and Greece," said Kevin Stairs of Greenpeace International.

The environmentalists say that in October 2004 the Basel Convention reiterated that waste ships fall under the Convention, which was created to prevent the dumping of toxic wastes from rich to poorer countries. It calls for minimizing the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and has passed a decision to ban all such exports from developed to developing countries.

The environmentalists maintain that the need for the signatories to the Basel Convention to clean up the ship scrapping industry is urgent as European deadlines near for phasing out over a thousand single hulled tankers.

According to environmentalists, "the IMO delegates allied with the shipping industry" held sway over last week's meeting "with Norway at the helm, holding two of the three chair positions, effectively blocking most of the recommendations made by Basel delegates or non-governmental organizations.

You can reach your own judgement on this by plowing through the 53 page full report of the Joint Working Group that is available here: http://www.imo.org/includes/blastDataOnly.asp/data_id%3D11357/Jointiloimobcworkinggroup.pdf.

Or you can read a press statement issued after the meeting and approved by IMO, ILO and the Basel Convention parties conference by going here: http://www.imo.org/Newsroom/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1018&doc_id=4712

Both of these make pretty mind numbing reading. But it seems pretty clear that some progress is being made towards what Jean-Claude Sainlos, Director of IMO's Marine Environment Division describes as "development of a realistic, pragmatic, well-balanced, workable and effective solution to the problem of ship recycling, which will take into account the particular characteristics of world maritime transport and the need for securing the smooth withdrawal of ships from trade at the end of their operating lives."

With the bureaucracies of three international organizations involved, this is inevitably going to be a tedious process--and it's hard to believe that even Greenpeace could expect the first meeting of a working group to wave a magic wand that would suddenly transform ship breaking as we know it into the ship recycling industry environmentalists would like to see.

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