Maersk’s toxic trade: the North Sea Producer case

Maersk's toxic trade: the North Sea Producer case

In August 2016 the FPSO NORTH SEA PRODUCER was beached in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The ship was allowed to leave the UK based on false claims that it would be further operationally used in the Tin Can port in Nigeria. In both the UK and Bangladesh, the Platform is fronting the battle to hold the owners, and cash buyer GMS, accountable for the illegal export of the FPSO.

 

The North Sea Producer (ex Dagmar Maersk) was deployed in the McCulloch field in the North Sea, transporting and extracting oil from the UK continental shelf for 17 years. It was owned by the North Sea Production Company, a single-ship joint venture between Danish A.P. Moeller Maersk and Brazilian Odebrecht. Once the field closed, the NORTH SEA PRODUCER was laid up in Teesport, UK, for a year while the owners were looking for buyers. For scrapping purposes the ship was only allowed to be sold to a facility within the OECD as any export of hazardous waste outside the OECD is in breach of EU law. 

 

Maersk and Odebrecht chose to sell the ship to the largest vessels’ scrap dealer, cash buyer GMS, through a St. Kitts and Nevis post box company called Conquistador Shipping Corporation. They then provided the UK authorities with a false contract stating that the NORTH SEA PRODUCER had found a new owner who would operate the ship in Nigeria.

 

Despite the vessel being under the radar of local communities in Teesside and was well-known in the shipping industry for needing to be scrapped, the UK authorities relied on the false contract to allow the FPSO to leave on tug. But the NORTH SEA PRODUCER never ended up in Nigeria. Instead it was towed directly all the way from the UK, around the African continent, to Bangladesh. The Platform was quick to alert both the UK and Bangladesh governments of the illegal export. It was only once the FPSO had left the UK – and after the case was strongly criticised in Danish and international press – that Maersk was “very, very sorry” that Conquistador Shipping Corporation had beached the NORTH SEA PRODUCER in Chittagong. According to Maersk, the new owners took this decision independently – and Maersk had been tricked. In their Sustainability Report 2016, Maersk also stated that they had cut all commercial ties with the buyer of the NORTH SEA PRODUCER: an obviously meaningless statement if that implies cutting ties with Conquistador Shipping Corporation, a single-ship post box company. Only when caught red-handed did Maersk admit that they knew all along the buyers were GMS, the largest waste traffickers in end-of-life ships. Maersk and Odebrecht knew the vessel would be scrapped - they also knew GMS would bring it to South Asia for dirty and dangerous scrapping in breach of EU waste laws.

 

Once the ship arrived at the Janata Steel shipbreaking yard in Chittagong, and upon alerts issued by local NGOs, the Bangladesh Attorney General of the Department of Environment set up a special committee to determine the presence of contaminated residues and to investigate the ship’s illegal import due to the lack of necessary clearances and false claims that it was hazardous-free. Having operated in the North Sea, the vessel’s pipelines likely contain residues contaminated by radioactive materials and sulphur. Other toxics, such as asbestos and heavy metals, are contained within the structure and paints of the ship. 

 

Upon a request from the Platform’s member organisation Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association (BELA), the report on the ship’s condition was released: it’s conclusion was that radioactive residues were found upon inspection and that further surveys needed to be carried out on the whole ship. BELA subsequently succeeded in getting an injunction on the breaking of the NORTH SEA PRODUCER. On 14 November the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh declared the import, beaching and breaking of the infamous FPSO North Sea Producer illegal.

 

The Court further noted with dismay the incessant violations of national and international laws by the shipbreaking industry, and passed several directions upon the government to regulate the sector in line with earlier rulings. The Court directed authorities to i) subject cash buyers and agents to stricter scrutiny, including a detailed recording of their particulars, and to hold them accountable to the strictest sanctions; ii) regulate the import of vessels registered under “last voyage” grey- or black-listed flags which are particularly popular with cash buyers, including Comoros, Palau and St. Kits and Nevis, and; iii) ensure that no vessel is imported without proper verifiable pre-cleaning certificates and declarations of in-built hazardous wastes, and/or by yards that do not fully comply with the requirements for obtaining an Environmental Clearance.

 

In the UK, the Platform demanded the Secretary of State for Environment to investigate the illegal export from Teesside. UK authorities have been looking into the case since then to establish the responsibility of all parties involved. Providing fraudulent documentation in order to circumvent existing waste export bans is a criminal offence, in Europe and internationally via the Basel Convention. In parallel Danish parliamentarians have requested that the Environment Minister to also take action to hold Maersk accountable.

 

Maersk and Odebrecht were well acquainted with the GMS’ notorious trafficking of waste ships. They were also well aware of the illegality of selling the vessel for scrapping in South Asia. This is not a case of poor human rights due diligence, but one where companies collude to earn big bucks on the back of people and the environment.

 

 

The controversial case of the Harrier: holding business to account

The controversial case of the Harrier

It all started with an anonymous letter informing us that the EIDE CARRIER was sold for scrap. Having been laid up for many years on the Norwegian west coast the Platform immediately contacted the owners, Eide Group, to make them aware that exporting the vessel to a South Asian beaching yard would be in breach of European waste laws. Eide Group categorically refuted at the time that the vessel sold for scrap. Little did they – or we – know what would then happen.

 

Almost a year and a half later, in February 2017, the vessel attempted to leave Norway under a new name, new flag and new registered owner. After a simple stroke of paint to alter the first letter, the vessel was now called TIDE CARRIER. The ship had swapped its flag to that of Comoros and was registered under an anonymous St. Kitts and Nevis post-box company called Julia Shipping Inc. All solid indications that a cash buyer - a scrap dealer specialised in the trading of end-of-life ships to the South Asian beaching yards - was involved.

 

Only hours after its departure, the engine stopped. Despite the ship’s deteriorating condition and bad weather conditions, the vessel’s new captain, from Nabeel Ship Management, did not call for help. The ship was drifting towards one of Norway’s most renowned beaches and the Norwegian coastguards were forced to trigger a salvage operation to avoid the risk of oil spill and grounding. The rescue operation included the emergency evacuation of 5 crew members – one of which suffered from a broken shoulder – and the deployment of two tugboats to bring the ship to safety. 

 

At the request of the owners, Julia Shipping Inc., the ship was laid up in Gismarvik. Its name was re-painted and changed this time to HARRIER. The flag also changed again, from Comoros to another popular end-of-life flag, Palau. According to the Comoros registry, which was contacted by the Norwegian authorities, the vessel had in fact never been registered under the Comoros flag.

 

The Platform alerted the authorities that the vessel in all likelihood had been sold to a beaching yard in South Asia to be scrapped, and that the post box company Julia Shipping Inc. in all likelihood was concealing a cash buyer. We also alerted that there were suspicions that the ship had been used to store hazardous sludge.

 

When the Norwegian Environment Agency boarded the laid-up vessel they found evidence that the HARRIER was indeed under a “break up voyage” insurance from Norway to Gadani, Pakistan. They also found unidentified and excessive amounts of sludge and fuel oils. The sales contract that dated from summer 2015 – when we had first received the anonymous tip-off – revealed that the contact person for Julia Shipping Inc. was Keyur Dave, Chief Financial Officer at cash buyer Wirana. It thus became clear that the repair contract from the Middle-East which had been provided to the Norwegian authorities as a way to escape checks for the illegal export of the vessel for breaking was false. The HARRIER was now under arrest and not allowed to leave Norway unless it was to sail to a ship recycling destination in line with international and European hazardous waste laws. 

 

Norwegian authorities pressed charges against the owners for having attempted to illegally export hazardous waste and rejected the complaint of Julia Shipping Inc., represented by law firm Wikborg Rein, for the arrest order.

 

Without having paid the fees for lay-up in Gismarvik, the HARRIER was moved to be anchored off the coast of Farsund. There, two crew members remained confined onboard the ship for more than one year. With the help of Norsk Gjennvinning, Wirana finally obtained the approval from both Norwegian and Turkish authorities to scrap the ship in Aliaga, Turkey, where it arrived in August 2018 – three years after its initial sale for breaking. Before leaving Norway, Wirana was forced to pay GMC in Gismarvik EUR 700.000 for lay-up costs that had still not been settled. 

 

Bad omen, or rather just another sign of how reckless cash buyers are: on its way to Aliaga, the HARRIER caused an oil spill in the Izmir region. Turkish authorities have given the owners a fine of USD 300.000 for the spill and also requested them to pay for the clean-up operation, estimated at 4,5 mill USD. Until the fine and clean-up costs are paid, the recycling of the ship is at halt. In the meantime, the recycling yard in Aliaga, SOK, is stuck with a vessel it has already paid Wirana for and cannot start recycling – and Julia Shipping Inc. has disappeared…

 

In Norway, police investigations, now headed by the financial crimes division, are targeting the former and current owners of the ship, Georg Eide and cash buyer Wirana. On the one hand, Mr Eide was sentenced in November 2020 to six months unconditional imprisonment for having assisted scrap dealer Wirana in the attempt to illegally export the ship. The Court also ordered the confiscation of criminal dividends of NOK 2 million from Eide Marine Eidendom AS. On the other hand, cash buyer Wirana has been fined NOK 7 million for having falsified papers to deceive Norwegian authorities about the ship's true destination and its seaworthiness to allow the vessel to leave Norway. The cash buyer agreed to pay the fine, but without acknowledging wrongdoing. Also marine warranty surveyor Aqualis Offshore and insurance company Skuld Maritime Agency have been under investigation for their involvement in the attempt to illegally export the Harrier to Pakistan. Aqualis Offshore issued two certificates for the ship on the same day – one for a break-up voyage to Pakistan, another for a voyage to Dubai. Skuld Maritime Agency was involved in issuing the last-voyage insurance for the vessel. For undisclosed reasons, the public prosecutors’ office recently dismissed the charge and withdrew the penalty charge notice issued to Aqualis Offshore.

 

The HARRIER case reveals the business practices of ship owners and cash buyers, and adds to several other cases where authorities have been lied to and provided false information as a way to escape checks for the illegal export of end-of-life ships. It is also a case that illustrates the many risks of entering into business relationships with unreliable companies that have a bad track record putting profit above people and the environment. 

 

Financers pressure shipping industry to clean up its recycling practices

Financers pressure shipping industry to clean up its recycling practices

Banks, pension funds and other financial institutions are increasingly asked to take into account social, environmental and governance criteria when selecting asset values or clients. Investing with an eye to environmental or social issues, not just financial returns, is in demand, and the credit providers and investors of shipping are now actively taking a closer look at how they might contribute to a shift towards better ship recycling practices off the beach.  

 

Through what is known as “negative screening”, investors are using the annual lists that the Platform publishes on global dumpers to screen their portfolio. In 2018, Scandinavian pension funds the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global and KLP divested from four shipping companies due to their beaching practices. The exclusions were made public and with written explanations. Both the breach of international human rights and the severe environmental damage caused by beaching were highlighted as reasons for the divestments.

 

"One particular problem with beaching is that shipbreaking takes place when the vessels are standing in mud and sand. As a result, the pollution leaches into the ground and is washed out with the tides. Even if arrangements were put in place at the beaching sites for the treatment of asbestos and PCBs, for example, the fundamental problem of containing and collecting the pollution would be impossible to resolve. There are better ways of dismantling ships that are readily available to the shipowner, but these are more expensive. "
Council on Ethics - Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global

 

Banks play a crucial role in supporting economic activity through their lending. They can also influence better business practices through engaging with their clients on social, environmental and governance matters. Starting off as a Dutch bank initiative with NIBC, ING and ABN AMRO as founding members, large Scandinavian and German shipping banks are now also part of a group of banks that promote responsible ship recycling and negotiate clauses to that aim in the loan agreements they sign with shipping companies. 

 

"The recycling, or scrapping, of a ship at the end of its lifecycle poses potential large social and environmental risks for the shipping industry, especially if so-called beaching practices are used. These practices mean that ships are driven directly upon beaches and dismantled under difficult working conditions and with detrimental environmental consequences as hazardous waste is discharged directly into the sea."
Nordea Bank

 

The financers of shipping have signaled that there are likely further exclusions to come. In light of the announced decommissioning in the oil and gas sector, it is further likely that investments in oil and gas assets will be also scrutinized. 

 

 

 

Council on Ethics - Recommendation to exclude Evergreen Marine Corp (Taiwan) Ltd from the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG)

KLP - Shipbreaking practices in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan

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Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2017

European ship owners top the list of global dumpers: the EU must do more to reverse this scandal

 

According to new data released today by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 835 large ocean-going commercial vessels were sold to the scrap yards in 2017. 543 were broken down – by hand – on the tidal beaches of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan: amounting to 80,3% of all tonnage dismantled globally.

"The figures of 2017 are a sad testimony of the shipping industry’s unwillingness to act responsibly. The reality is that yards with infrastructure fit for the heavy and hazardous industry that ship recycling is, and that can ensure safe working conditions and containment of pollutants, are not being used by ship owners. It is particularly shameful that so many European shipping companies scrap their vessels on beaches. Their obvious lack of interest to ensure that shipbreaking workers around the world enjoy best available technologies, and that the environment is equally protected everywhere, clearly calls for additional pressure from authorities, shipping clients and financers."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The negative consequences of shipbreaking are real and felt by many. On the one hand, workers – often exploited migrants and some of them children – lose their life, suffer from injuries caused by fires, falling steel plates and the general unsafe working conditions, as well as from occupational diseases due to exposure to toxic fumes and materials. On the other hand, coastal ecosystems, and the local communities depending on them, are devastated by toxic spills and various pollutants leaking into the environment as a result of breaking vessels on beaches.

 

Despite the terrible accident that shook the international shipbreaking community in 2016, no lesson has been learned in Pakistan. In 2017, at least 10 workers lost their lives at the shipbreaking yards on the beach of Gadani. The Platform documented 15 deaths in the Bangladeshi yards last year, where also at least another 22 workers were seriously injured. Whilst international and local NGOs were repeatedly denied access to the Indian shipbreaking yards, the Platform was informed of at least eight fatal accidents in Alang in 2017.

 


DUMPERS 2017 - Worst practices

 

As in 2016, GERMANY and GREECE top the list of country dumpers in 2017. German owners, including banks and ship funds, beached 50 vessels out of a total of 53 sold for demolition. Greek owners were responsible for the highest absolute number of ships sold to South Asian shipbreaking yards in 2017: 51 ships in total. Since the Platform’s first compilation of data in 2009, Greek shipping companies have unceasingly topped the list of owners that opt for dirty and dangerous shipbreaking.

 

Despite increased pressure for safe and clean ship recycling from Norwegian investors and authorities, in 2017, the number of Norwegian-owned ships scrapped on the beach was on the rise: 16 ended up in Alang, Gadani and Chittagong. The attempted illegal export of the TIDE CARRIER to Pakistan was stopped by Norwegian authorities following an alert by the Platform.

 

In light of increased pressure from Scandinavian banks and investors, including Norwegian pension funds KLP and NBIM, and ongoing criminal investigations against the owners of TIDE CARRIER, Norwegian ship owners will have to ask themselves whether dirty profits are worth the reputational and financial risk that using beaching facilities now entails. Also, Danish container-giant Maersk will have an increasingly hard time justifying its U-turn back to the beach in Alang, as the yards there will not make it on the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities [1]”, comments Ingvild Jenssen.

 

The worst corporate dumper prize goes to Continental Investment Holdings (CIH), the Singapore-headquartered shipowning arm of Myanmar shipowner Captain U Ko Ko Htoo and parent company of Continental Shipping Line. The company, which is currently changing the composition of its fleet, sold 9 ships for breaking on the beaches in 2017. Four vessels ended up in Bangladesh, where in late December, during the demolition of CIH’s TAUNG GYI STAR, a worker died hit by a falling iron plate.

 

Ranked at second place, the container shipping giant Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) sold 7 vessels to Indian breakers. In the last nine years, MSC has profited from the sale of more than seventy ships for dirty and dangerous scrapping in Alang.

 

The Japanese owner Mitsui OSK Lines and the UK-based Zodiac Group follow closely with respectively 6 and 5 ships sold to South Asian yards. Zodiac received the worst dumper award in 2016 and sold 4 vessels to the yards in Chittagong despite being under scrutiny after a Bangladeshi worker sought compensation from the company for injuries incurred when breaking the EURUS LONDON.

 

Other known companies that in 2017 opted for substandard yards, rather than recycling their ships in a safe and clean manner, include: Hanjin Shipping, Hansa Mare Reederei, Peter Dohle Schiffahrts, Rickmers Reederei, Hansa Treuhand, Berge Bulk, Costamare, Quantum Pacific Group and Teekay. Teekay had promised to never sell to beaching yards again after a worker died breaking the ASPIRE in 2014 in Chittagong. That Berge Bulk was under the spotlight in December 2016, when it was feared that the Berge Stahl would end up on a beach, did not prevent the company from selling another 5 ships for dirty and dangerous breaking in 2017.


 

With the oil and gas sector seeing a downturn in the last couple of years, the Platform has documented an increase in offshore units that have gone for scrap. Out of the 91 units which have been identified as demolished in the last three years combined, 41 of them ended up on the beaches of South Asia after being towed for thousands of kilometers across the globe. Three floating platforms cold-stacked in Scotland that were sold by Diamond Offshore for scrap in 2017, allegedly to cash buyer GMS, were stopped from leaving following an alert by the Platform on their highly likely illegal export. “Fixed platforms cannot easily escape decommissioning rules, whereas we have seen that nearly half of all floating units slip under the radar and end up on beaches – this double standard has to stop”, states Francesca Carlsson, Corporate Liaison and Policy Officer of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

 

All vessels sold to the beaching yards pass through the hands of scrap dealers known as cash buyers. In this way, ship owners attempt to shield themselves from responsibility, and are paid upfront the highest market price in cash for their end-of-life vessels by the dealers. To reduce costs and to exploit the loopholes in international legislation, cash buyers will change a vessel’s flag to one of the typical last-voyage flags of convenience, such as Comoros, Palau and St Kitts and Nevis. Cash buyers will also register the vessel under a new name and a new post box company, rendering it very difficult for authorities to trace and hold cash buyers and ship owners accountable for illicit business practices.

"Ship-owning companies that stand by their corporate social responsibility directly sign contracts with ship recycling facilities they have inspected and found adequate. Choosing to sell a ship to a facility which is on the EU list of approved yards is the easiest way for a ship owner to be assured that there has been a quality check. Fortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult for ship owners to simply blame the cash buyer: investors and authorities are expecting ship owners to control the choice of the recycling yard, and expect that choice to be a yard that does not endanger workers and the environment [2]."
Francesca Carlsson - Corporate Liaison and Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

For the list of all ships dismantled worldwide in 2017, click here.*/**
For detailed figures and analysis on ships dismantled in 2017, click here.*

 

* The data gathered by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform is sourced from different outlets and stakeholders, and is cross-checked whenever possible. The data upon which this information is based is correct to the best of the Platform’s knowledge, and the Platform takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided. The Platform will correct or complete data if any inaccuracy is signaled. All data which has been provided is publicly available and does not reveal any confidential business information.

 

**[UPDATE 22 February 2018 - Norwegian Tschudi Shipping Company AS informed us that two ships the company owned, the Hurricane I and the Hurricane II, had been sold to a buyer for continued operation in August 2016, one year before they ended up on South Asian beaches. Indeed, the buyer was the Indian registered company Hermes Maritime Services Pvt Ltd, which in 2017 purchased and sold several ships for breaking. Further research revealed that Hermes Maritime Services Pvt Ltd also buys tugboats near the end of their operational lives and manages these to tow vessels to the beaching yards, as was the case for the Hurricane vessels. The Platform has therefore updated the data and changed the ownership of these two vessels to the Indian-based Hermes Maritime Services Pvt]
[UPDATE 23 February 2018 - Italian K-Ships Srl informed us that one ship the company managed, the F1, had been sold to a buyer for continued operation in November 2013, four years before it ended up on a South Asian beach. The documentation provided by K-Ships shows that the Italian company is not linked to the end-of-life sale of the F1. The Platform has therefore rectified the data concerning the beneficial ownership of the vessel]

 

 

NOTES

 

[1] In 2018, the EU will publish a list of ship recycling facilities around the world that comply with high standards for environmental protection and workers’ safety. The list will be the first of its kind and an important reference point for sustainable ship recycling.

 

[2] The many scandals involving European shipping companies are also a driver behind the strong interest that various financial institutions have started to show in ship recycling: to ensure responsible business practices, some are now setting criteria for shipping companies they finance, while looking at the EU Ship Recycling Regulation for guidance.

 

Press Release – Dutch prosecutors press criminal charges against Seatrade

Managers risk prison sentences and hefty fines for the illegal sale of end-of-life ships

 


CORRECTION

 

Brussels, 15 February 2018 – Following discussions with the Dutch Public Prosecutor, cash buyer GMS was not confirmed to be the end-buyer of the Seatrade’s vessels. Evidence provided to the Court showed that GMS had made an offer for at least one of the ships, which supports the Prosecutor’s case on Seatrade’s intent to dispose of the vessel(s).


 

For the first time in Europe, Public Prosecutors are bringing criminal charges against a ship owner – Seatrade – for having sold vessels to scrap yards in countries “where current ship dismantling methods endanger the lives and health of workers and pollute the environment”. The case is being heard in a Rotterdam Court this week, and the Dutch Public Prosecutor calls for a hefty fine (2.55 mill EUR) and confiscation of the profits Seatrade made on the illegal sale of four ships, as well as a six month prison sentence for three of Seatrade’s top executives. Seatrade is based in Groningen, the Netherlands, and is the largest reefer operator in the world.

 

In 2013, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform had revealed Seatrade’s sale of the SPRING BEAR and SPRING BOB to respectively Indian and Bangladeshi breakers. The heavy charges pressed by the Dutch Prosecutor additionally involve the scrapping of the SPRING PANDA and SPRING DELI in Turkey, and are based on international laws governing the export of hazardous waste and the EU Waste Shipment Regulation. The Regulation prohibits EU Member States from exporting hazardous waste [1] to countries outside the OECD, as well as requiring a prior informed consent for such exports. All four vessels departed on their last voyage to the breaking yards from the ports of Rotterdam and Hamburg in the spring of 2012.

 

[The Prosecutor presented evidence that Seatrade was planning on selling the ships via a cash-buyer in order to maximize financial gain. In e-mail exchanges between Seatrade and Baltic Union Shipbrokers, cash buyer GMS offered the highest price for special parts of at least one of the vessels. The end-sale was not to GMS, but another undisclosed cash buyer.] According to the Prosecutor, Seatrade opted for using a cash buyer, rather than recycling the ships in a safe and clean manner, for purely financial reasons. [Cash buyers, such as GMS, are] infamous scrap-dealers specialized in bringing ships to the beaches of South Asia, where the price of end-of-life vessels is higher due to the exploitation of migrant laborers and to weak, or no, enforcement of safety and environmental standards. According to the Prosecutor, that Seatrade knowingly sold the vessels for dirty and dangerous breaking in order to maximize profits further aggravates the charge [2].

 

Despite ongoing criminal investigations, Seatrade sold two more ships – the SINA and ELLAN – for dirty and dangerous breaking on the beach in Alang, India, in August 2017”, says Ingvild Jenssen, Founder and Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “This case adds itself to the growing demand, including from investors and major shipping banks, for better ship recycling practices”, she adds.

 

Authorities in Norway, Belgium, and the UK will be paying close attention to the verdict of the case. Similar cases are currently being investigated there, involving shipping companies such as Maersk and CMB, as well as the world’s largest cash-buyers GMS and Wirana.

 

 

NOTES

 

[1] Ships contain many substances that are toxic within their structure, including asbestos, heavy metals and residue oils. Since Seatrade specializes in transporting refrigerated goods, all the vessels additionally contained chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs), a substance which is known to cause ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere. The Montreal Protocol (on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer), which entered into force in 1989, has since its adoption phased out and prohibited the use of CFCs.

 

[2] Earlier this year the world largest private investor, the Norwegian Oil Pension Fund, divested from four shipping companies due to their poor shipbreaking practices. They also argued that selling a vessel to a beaching yard “is a consequence of an active choice on the part of the company that owned the vessel to maximise its profit”.