The International Maritime Organisation, that’s the United Nations agency for safety at sea, has acknowledged, the first time this has been publicised, that a large number of abandoned or no-longer usable fibreglass vessels - including fishing vessels and leisure craft – are being dumped at sea each year, possibly due to a lack of land-based disposal facilities.
The IMO, as it is known, told me so after I enquired, following a previous podcast about the disposal of fibreglass yachts, about the envirornmental aspects of disposing of what are, basically, plastic boats.
When I raised the subject around Irish boating circles, no one seemed to be sure how long plastic boats will last for…
Fibreglass is a highly recyclable material, the IMO told me and said that the technology for recycling fibreglass already exists, but the logistics of handling the large amounts of fibreglass hulls from abandoned or derelict vessels poses a significant challenge.
So, the IMO has decided to carry out a study which it says is “to collate information on the scale of the problem of disposing of fibreglass vessels” and to identify “key knowledge gaps relating to impacts of fibre reinforced plastic vessels dumped or placed in the marine environment.”
It seems that no one realy knows what to do with them at the present time.
Scientific research will be hired to report on whether such vessels could be disposed of in the sea in a safe and environmentally sound manner and whether “guidance” should be developed on the disposal of fibreglass vessels.
Seems like a potential problem is being identified.
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Tom MacSweeney presents the maritime programme, THIS ISLAND NATION