Grounding of the MV Wakashio on the reef and oil spill in the South East of Mauritius (July 2020)


On 25 July 2020, at around 10pm, the Japanese bulk carrier MV Wakashio, flying a Panamanian flag, ran aground on the reef south-east of Mauritius. A major oil spill followed a week later.

 There was a major oil spill with about 1000 tons of fuel oil spilled in the lagoon of this part of the island. The Mauritians organised themselves to reduce the impact of the spill and over 800 tonnes was recovered before it reached the coast. Unfortunately, 200 tons of fuel oil reached the shoreline and mangroves causing the biggest ecological disaster in the history of Mauritius.

 Hugues Vitry who is also the founder of the NGO MMCO which studies and protects the megafauna including sharks, turtles and cetaceans in Mauritius was asked to give an advisory opinion on the choice of a site off the road and whale breeding grounds for the scuttling of the bow of the Wakashio. The proposal to find other alternatives was raised and discussed but was not feasible, along with MMCO biologist, Svetlana Barteneva, represented civil society and NGOs to ensure that the scuttling took place at the planned location and in ecologically acceptable conditions.  They supervised the scuttling and were assisted by the National Coast Guards aircraft to fly over the site and verify and authenticate the GPS points.

See interview with Hugues Vitry about the Wakashio on the website:

During the mobilisation to build oil booms and clean up the oil spill, the Blue Water Divers team was divided into two parts; one team helped build the booms to prevent the oil from advancing and to collect the oil.

The author on the ground to contain and recover oil from the coast



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