Law of Yachts and Yachting

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The Recycling of Yachts

The Recycling of Yachts

  • 1. The international and European legal framework 313
  • 2. Ships, yachts and the Basel system 314
  • 3. The Basel Convention and yachts 315
  • 4. Yachts and the Ship Recycling Convention 318
  • 5. Contracts for the recycling of yachts 328

[13-001] Introduction. Prior to the early 1950s, the majority of sailing yachts and other pleasure craft were built largely of wood by boatyards using traditional building methods. Only the largest motor yachts were constructed from steel in the same manner as merchant ships. In the post-war years, the rapid growth in popularity of fibreglass (glass reinforced plastic, or GRP) construction has revolutionised boat-building methods, enabling boat-builders to produce very durable, long-lasting and largely maintenance-free yachts at a lower cost than that of comparable yachts built in wood. As a result, very few sailing and motor yachts are now built in wood and GRP construction is commonplace for pleasure yachts as large as 30 metres (98 feet) or more. Above that size, yachts will more usually be constructed in steel, or occasionally aluminium, using commercial shipbuilding methods. For racing and high-performance sailing yachts, carbon fibre and composite materials are gaining popularity, especially for masts. Environmental concerns about the disposal of GRP products and the development of a particularly strict waste treatment regime in Europe unavoidably affects the recycling of yachts. Despite the various efforts undertaken by the chemical industry for more than 20 years, the recovery of material and energy from GRP appears to be just good enough to justify the existence of the recovery process in environmental terms, but not sufficiently good to create financial incentives to the yacht owner to recycle the yacht. Anecdotal evidence suggests that, at several sailing areas around the world, abandoned GRP pleasure yachts can be found at the coast. Thus the position of the yacht owner, even one who invests in this market as a business, is akin to that of any consumer, driven by regulation alone to ensure the environmentally safe disposal of its property. This financial position is very different from that of the owner of a large commercial vessel, the scrap value of which can be significant. It is surprising, therefore, that the legal framework for the recycling of yachts, especially the largest of them, will soon be dealt with under an international Convention developed for the recycling of commercial ships primarily constructed from steel. At the end of its, usually, very long life, a yacht will have to be disposed of somehow. Environmental concerns have developed the philosophy of responsibility for products from cradle to grave. The associated legal framework

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has been quickly evolving and will continue to develop further over the next few years. As will be seen, the primary concern relates to hazardous substances. However, general rules have been developed for the recycling of ships and yachts and methods for identifying, monitoring and ensuring the safe removal of hazardous substances.

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