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Oil leak is threatening nature and local people's health, Mauritius

Japanese ship MV Wakashi leaked tonnes of fuel and diesel into Mauritius's pristine nature in July 2020. Coral reefs, mangrove forests, lagoons and livelihoods of thousands of people are threatened.


Mauritius is an African Island over 1,200 miles off Africa’s eastern coast. It is inhabited by 1.3 million people. The country depends crucially on its seas for food and for tourism, boasting some of the finest coral reefs in the world.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Oil leak is threatening nature and local people's health, Mauritius
Location of conflict:Pointe d'Esny
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Wetlands and coastal zone management
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

-The carrier, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, ran aground on July 25, 2020.

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Type of populationUnknown
Affected Population:1.3 million people
Start of the conflict:07/2020
Company names or state enterprises:Mitsui OSK Lines from Japan - owner
Nagashiki Shipping from Japan - owner
Relevant government actors:Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Fishing, Government of Mauritus.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Eco-Sud, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, Greenpeace, Fridays for Future, Rezistans ek Alternativ (ReA).
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Students, children.
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
clean-up operations
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Oil spills, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsMarine Biodiversity loss
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
Under negotiation
Clean-up operations
Proposal and development of alternatives:Pollution is destroying ecotourism, fishing and other economic activities which are the backbone of Mauritius' economy.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Too early to say. However, this accident is not the first one around the world. There is a high risk linked to the transport of fossil fuels and other polluting commodities which from one day to another can destroy species and the livelihood of thousands of people.
Sources & Materials

[1] France offers aid as Mauritius declares emergency over oil leak from grounded ship
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[2] Mauritius declares emergency over oil spill from grounded ship
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[3] Océan Indien : quatre questions sur la marée noire qui menace l'île Maurice
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[4] Maurice : des hydrocarbures s'écoulent d'un navire échoué depuis fin juillet
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[5] Wakashio: Un échouement qui suscite des interrogations
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[6] Mauritius Faces Environmental Crisis as Oil Spills From Grounded Ship
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[7] A stricken ship is leaking tonnes of fuel into the 'pristine lagoons' of the Indian Ocean
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[8] Mauritius scrambles to contain second oil spill from damaged tanker
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[9] Vel Mooien (GCaptain), Mauritians take Wakashio Oil Spill Battle to Island's Supreme Court, July 25 2022.
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[10] Vel Mooien (GCaptain), Wakashio's Owner Limits Liability Over Grounding as Wreck Removal Continues, November 22 2021.
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[11] Mohubath Yasine, Mauritius oil spill: MV Wakashio ship captain sentenced, BBC News, December 27 2021.
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Other documents

Kllling birds, including Dodos Souce: The painting on Dr. Tatayah’s wall, based on a woodcut from 1602 and colored by Julian Pender-Hume. VIKASH TATAYAH.
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Other comments:"We are in an environmental crisis situation," Environment Minister Kavy Ramano told a press conference.

"Thousands of species around the pristine lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d'Esny and Mahebourg are at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius's economy, food security and health," said Greenpeace's climate and energy manager, Happy Khambule.

"This is a serious environmental crisis and we are not yet aware of all the consequences it could have. It's also terrible for Mauritius, whose economy is based on tourism and has already been severely impacted by the pandemic," Younous Omarjee, a member of the European Parliament from Reunion Island
Meta information
Contributor:Grettel Navas and Ksenija Hanaček (ENVJustice Project)
Last update15/09/2022
Conflict ID:5173
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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