Japanese bulker MV Wakashio runs aground in Mauritius and causes oil to spill in the blue lagoon

Ish Sookun

A bulk carrier, MV Wakashio, that belongs to a Japanese company and sails under the flag of Panama ran aground in Mauritius on 25th July 2020. The ship was on its course to Brazil carrying 3,894 metric tons of low sulphur fuel oil, 207 metric tons of diesel and 90 metric tons of lubricant oil on board as reported by MarineLink.

Video credits, Reuben Pillay.

The first traces of oil spill became apparent after about a week. Despite the alarm raised by the NGOs, inhabitants and fishermen, the local authorities seemed to have acted slow in precautionary measures. A clear sign of poor leadership.

The Fisheries Minister, Sudheer Maudhoo, is quoted by The Guardian saying:

This is the first time that we are faced with a catastrophe of this kind and we are insufficiently equipped to handle this problem.

The Minister appears to have forgotten the MV Benita bulker shipwreck and oil spill that occurred four years ago. No lessons learned there! 😑

A report commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme describes a national contingency plan for responding to oil spills that may occur in Mauritius and five of the important Islets. On page 37 of the report oil spill response strategies are detailed.

Mauritians expressed their disappointment, anger and sadness on social networks.