Fishing vessel Lu Rong Yuan Yu 588 ran ashore on Sunday, March 7, 2021, about 10 kilometers from Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius.
The following day, Mauritius mobilized and deployed coast guards and armed forces to rescue the stranded vessel. The authorities are now pumping the 130 tonnes of oil and five tonnes of lubricants from the Chinese-flagged fishing trawler.
The response comes after the Minister of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping, Sudheer Maudhoo, highlighted responding to the crisis as a priority at a press conference on March 8.
“We hope to pump out all the fuel on board by tomorrow or the next day, then after four to five days, we will carry out a salvage operation to remove the ship,” Minister Maudhoo said.
He indicated that the fishing vessel had only caused a minor spill and that the 310 meters of floating booms around the boat were controlling the leak.
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Although local residents told an AFP correspondent that they saw fuel arrive on the shore while drone footage showed traces of oil in the Indian Ocean waters near the Lu Rong Yuan Yu, Minister Maudhoo assured the people that there was no cause for concern.
The oil spotted, he said, was not “heavy oil,” but possibly lubricants.
As of Monday, March 8, all of the boat’s 16 crew members had been rescued. While the minister did not provide more details on the circumstances of the incident, he confirmed that “The police and shipping officials are on board to seize all documents and [that] an investigation has been opened.”
This incident comes only seven months after Mauritius experienced its worst maritime pollution crisis in history when the bulk carrier MV Wakashio also ran aground. The carrier had 3,800 tonnes of fuel oil and 200 tonnes of diesel. Over 1,000 tonnes of the fuel were dumped into the ocean, prompting the government to declare a state of environmental emergency.
But by the time the government issued an urgent appeal for international help, the oil had already reached the shore and covered corals, damaging the island’s fragile ecosystems.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — In the Featured Photo: Volunteers clean the ocean coast from oil after a tanker wreck, Mauritius. Featured Photo Credit: ohrim.