After a Japanese-owned ship that ran aground offshore days ago started spilling tons of fuel, Mauritius' Indian Ocean Island has declared a "state of environmental emergency." The emergency was announced by Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth late Friday, as satellite images showed a dark slick spreading in the turquoise waters near environmental areas that the government called "very sensitive." The ship that was carrying the 4,000 tons of fuel started leaking after cracks appeared in its hull.
Moreover, the environment minister said that all attempts to secure the ship had failed due to rough seas, and even failed efforts to pump the oil out. Ecologists worry that the ship would break up, causing much greater leakage and possibly causing serious damage to the coastline of the island. The carrier, which belonged to a Japanese company but was Panamanian-flagged, started facing issues on July 25 and its crew was safely rescued.
Social media pictures showed a slick of black oil spreading out from the knocked container. The ship at the time had no cargo but the local media reported that it was carrying 200 tons of diesel and 3,800 tons of bunker fuel.
⚠️ Catastrophe écologique en cours à l’Île Maurice. Le MV Wakashio, un vraquier japonais transportant 200 tonnes de diesel et 3 800 tonnes de fuel, s’est échoué sur le récif le 26 juillet. Les autorités ont confirmé que du fuel s’échappe d’une fissure dans la coque. pic.twitter.com/jpn4tV8x2W— Hugo Clément (@hugoclement) August 6, 2020
Unable to deal with oil spillage alone: Mauritius
As per a report in The Guardian, shipping websites say Wakashio was built in 2007 with a gross weight of 101,000 tons and capable of carrying 203,000 tons and 299,95 meters (984 feet ) in length. The grounding occurred at Pointe d'Esny, which is classified under the internationally important Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and close to Blue Bay Marine Park. Anti-pollution systems were sent to both locations, the environment ministry said. However, the country has shown its inability to fight the spillage alone and have sought from the French government.
Nagashiki Shipping, which owns the Wakashio, argued that due to sea conditions it can't take necessary action to contain the pollution. In a statement, the company said, "Nagashiki Shipping takes its environmental responsibilities extremely seriously and with partner agencies and contractors will make every effort to protect the marine environment and prevent further pollution."