Human Rights and The Ocean: Shipbreaking and Toxins

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Dann, B., Gold, M., Aldalur, M. and Braestrup, A. (series editor), Elder, L. (ed), Neumann, J. (ed). Human Rights & The Ocean: Shipbreaking and Toxins. 4 November 2015. White Paper. 

Many environmentally destructive activities entail serious damage to the human beings who perform the activities and to their families and neighbors. Mining and agriculture are two large scale industries where the welfare of workers, the environment in which they work and live, and the practices to which they are subjected can be considered not only harmful, but a fundamental violation of both historic human rights frameworks and recent integration of environmental and human rights in international agreements. The well-being of the who work in the shipbreaking industry may be less well known. The practice of shipbreaking – the dismantling of oceangoing commercial vessels – inflicts serious harms on the shoreline environments where the dismantling occurs, on the deeper ocean ecosystems that border the shorelines, and on the human beings who do the work or live nearby. Shipbreaking is the immediate cause of massive losses of coastal vegetation, chemical pollution of the oceans, critical food species extinction, and the bio-accummulation of dangerous toxins in a broad spectrum of species, humans included. Less than ten percent of all the shipbreaking operations in the world comply with minimal environmental, labor, and human-health standards. The harm to ocean environments and to human communities would be mitigated by enforcement of existing standards and remediation and improvement of harmful operations.

Read the full white paper here.

Read Part II of the series, Slavery and the Shrimp on Your Plate, here.