MOL's Action towards the Wakashio Incident (Environmental Recovery and Social Contribution)
- 1. MOL's understanding of and response to the Wakashio Incident
- 2. MOL's relief activities
- (1) Activities of employees dispatched to the site NEW(updated on April 8, 2021)
- (2) Natural environmental protection and recovery project and social contribution activities
- (3) Procuring supplies and equipment, transporting them to the site
- (4) Organizational response
- (5) Dialogue with environmental NGOs and experts
- (6) Others
- 3. Press release briefing on September 11, 2020
- 4. List of press releases related to the incident
- [Reference] Time line after the incident / Outline of the vessel
1. MOL's understanding of and response to the Wakashio Incident
An MOL-chartered bulk carrier ran aground in the Republic of Mauritius, resulting in an oil spill that had a serious impact on the marine and natural environment, affecting the site, the community, and its industries.
MOL, as the party using the vessel under a charter contract with the shipowner, is committed to contributing to a swift recovery from the oil spill and restoration of the environment and community through specific support activities that meet local needs, such as allocation of personnel and provision of supplies and equipment for the collection of the leaked oil.
At the same time, MOL strives to disclose information on our responses and initiatives regarding the incident through this exclusive site.
2. MOL's relief activities
(1) Activities of employees dispatched to the site
- (updated on April 8, 2021)
- [Distribution of food packs to families in need]
A resurgence of COVID-19 infections has made life more difficult for people in the region who had already faced difficult economic and social conditions since the first lockdown in March 2020, including fishermen (registered and non-registered) and boatmen who were also severely impacted by the oil spill.
On Tuesday, March 30, MOL (Mauritius) Ltd. decided to fund a project to distribute food to more than 60 families in the Mahebourg area during this critical lockdown period, in collaboration with Caritas Mauritius(*1) and Celero Ltd.(*2).
(*1) Caritas Mauritius: a Mauritius-based international non-government organization (NGO) that serves vulnerable citizens and works to assist those in need.
(*2) Celero Ltd.: an independent logistics group based in Mauritius and has been supporting MOL as a local agent after the incident.
Each family was provided with a food pack containing necessary supplies for two weeks including rice, lentils, cooking oil, canned food, milk, cereals, and biscuits as well as hygiene products, toothpaste, soap, toilet tissue, and sanitary pads.
With support from Celero Ltd., which provided transport assistance and three team members to help, MOL (Mauritius) Ltd. was able to visit and distribute food packs in economically distressed villages surrounding Mahebourg: Bambous Virieux, Grand Sable, St. Hubert, and St. Hilaire. Half of the food packs were also dedicated to extremely hard-hit areas such as Cite la Chaux, Cite Tole, and Titanic.
The oil spill incident in August 2020 occurred under the the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. MOL is committed to ongoing activities to support the lives of local people who are still subject to various restrictions.
- (updated on February 19, 2021)
- [Handover Ceremony for Shipping Container Donated to NGO Precious Plastic Mauritius]
On Tuesday, January 26, a handover ceremony was held to mark MOL's donation of a 40ft shipping container to the non-government organization (NGO) Precious Plastic Mauritius and the opening of the facility made from the refurbished container.
Precious Plastic Mauritius, founded in 2019 by Valery de Falbaire, is an NGO based in Pointe d'Esny, Mahebourg, that seeks to provide recycling solutions by collecting waste and at the same time cleaning beaches and mangrove sites. Once a week, volunteers ride around neighborhoods on bicycles with trailers attached, collecting plastic trash, mainly bottles, for recycling into colorful items such as coasters. Until last year, plastic was recycled, and small items were produced on a trial basis in a small workshop in the corner of this residential area, but starting in January of this year, Precious Plastic obtained the right to set up a new workshop in the Youth Training Centre on state-owned land at Point Jerome in Mahebourg.
The container will be used to set up workshops, which will provide vocational training to fishermen in the Mahebourg area, where the facility is located, to teach plastic manufacturing and sales techniques and for kids to learn how to recycle plastic into various decorative items.
In collaboration with the NGO Precious Plastic Mauritius and the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Recreation, MOL (Mauritius) Ltd. organized a handing over ceremony to inaugurate the refurbished container donated to the NGO.
On hand for the event were Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Recreation, Honorable Jean Christophe Stephan Toussaint, Ambassador of Japan, His Excellency Shuichiro Kawaguchi, Counsellor Korehito Masuda of the Japanese Embassy in Mauritius, Precious Plastic Mauritius Founder Valery de Falbaire, MOL (Mauritius) Managing Director Goro Yamashita, CELERO Group Executive Chairman Marc Dalais, CELERO Group CEO Patrice Maury, and various representatives of the ministry and distinguished guests from the NGO.
The ceremony began with an opening speech by de Falbaire, underscoring the tremendous support of the Ministry as well as MOL (Mauritius) in holding the event. After his remarks, Yamashita from MOL (Mauritius) spoke about MOL's commitment to engage in activities to support the inhabitants of the area and promote its long-term development and sustainability. Minister Toussaint then took the floor to stress that this aid demonstrates the support and solidarity of the Japanese government in Mauritius. Ambassador Kawaguchi, for his part, emphasized the importance of reviewing waste management and ended his speech by reaffirming Japan’s willingness to work with Mauritius in the context of disaster prevention.
MOL will continually support activities to restore the environment and improve the lives of local citizens.
- (updated on December 28, 2020)
- [Delivering Christmas presents to local families with NGO]
On December 22, together with the NGO Precious Plastic Mauritius (*) (founder: Mr. Valery de Falbaire), MOL delivered Christmas presents to 9 families living in extreme poverty in the deprived areas of Mahebourg, located on the South-East part of Mauritius. The organization is collaborating with other inhabitants of the area to help those families in addition to its major activity of recycling plastic waste. The MOL dispatched team in Mauritius joined their initiatives and helped them by giving our original Mauritius T-shirts and masks. The children and their families also received toys and cookies. MOL will continue to cooperate with the NGO to support deprived families in the region.
(*) Precious Plastic Mauritius is an NGO based in Mahebourg that collects plastic waste and recycles it into plastic products. Once a week, using a bicycle with a trailer they collect plastic from local homes and beach clean-ups, and then recycle the plastic into colorful coasters and accessories. They are currently producing small objects by recycling plastic on a trial basis in a small workshop in a residential area. In January 2021, they will establish a new workshop with larger equipment in a state-run site where a youth training camp is established. They will make tables, chairs and other items from recycled plastic. MOL donated a container house as this workshop. At this workshop, training for plastic manufacturing and sales techniques will be given to fishermen in the Mahebourg area, where the facility is located.
- [Co-hosting a Christmas Party with the Government of Mauritius and the Embassy of Japan]
On December 23, the Ministry of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries & Shipping, the Japanese Embassy and MOL jointly hosted a Christmas Party for some 250 primary school students within the nearby villages affected by the oil spill incident as well as their parents at Bamboo Virieux located near Mahebourg in collaboration with CELERO Group, the local partner of MOL.
On this occasion, the following dignitaries graced the party to share their Christmas greetings to the children and parents: His Excellency Shuichiro KAWAGUCHI, Ambassador of Japan; Honorable Sudheer MAUDHOO, Minister of Blue Economy Marine Resources, Fisheries & Shipping; Honorable Mahen Kumar SEERUTTUN, Minister of Financial Services: Honorable Mrs. Naveena RAMYAD, the Government Chief Whip; Honorable Mrs. Teenah JUTTON, Permanent Parliamentary Secretary of the constitution; and Mr. Goro YAMASHITA, of MOL and Mr. Patrice MAURY of CELERO Group.
Ustad RAJA, a very popular Mauritian magician produced a wonderful magic show to entertain the children followed by the local folkloric music, song and the famous Sega dance. All the children received toys and other gifts from Santa Clause, and locally made T-Shirt and face mask from MOL. Finally, all invitees were served a delicious lunch followed by tasty dessert prepared by the chef of a famous hotel in Mauritius.
Thanks to the partnership between the public and private sectors, this memorable event became a success and brought beautiful smiles on the faces of the children and parents during this festive time enhancing the strong collaboration between Japan and Mauritius.
It is MOL's intention to continue collaborating and supporting the communities in Mauritius.
- (updated on December 25, 2020)
- [Funding for a project to build a new nursery facility by local NGO]
On Thursday, December 10, MOL dispatched team met with Mahebourg Espoir, a local NGO actively involved in helping poor communities in Mahebourg, which is one of the closest towns within the oil polluted area where many local residents derive their living solely on the sea for fishing. The NGO operates the Mahebourg Espoir Education Centre (MEEC) for children coming from vulnerable families who have been dropped out of school.
There are currently about 50 teenagers studying in MEEC. Some classrooms are currently made of converted and refurbished shipping containers. There is also gymnasium and various workshops to provide physical education, music and computer classes along with academic studies and life skills in the facility. Mahebourg Espoir also supports a nursery school in the center of a deprived areas in the region for about 25 children aged between 2 and 5 years. This childcare service is currently being provided in a small apartment under the supervision of a caregiver. Since the facility is facing a possibility of closing order due to its poor infrastructure below the legally required level, Mahebourg Espoir developed a project to open a new facility for pre-school children with larger capacity with used container houses on the site of the Education Centre. MOL has gratefully decided to fund this significant project for children and the community.
MOL dispatched team made some donations for the children studying in MEEC and signed an MOU with Mahebourg Espoir. MOL intends to continue collaborating and supporting the communities in Mauritius.
- (updated on November 27, 2020)
- [Ceremony marking donation of containers to NGO]
On Friday, November 13, and November 20, MOL donated four containers to NGO EcoMode Society (*), which is engaged in environmental protection activities, and the MOL-dispatched team was on hand for the handover ceremonies.
Since the needs of containers came up in the meeting with EcoMode Society in mid-October, MOL team have arranging all procedures, from securing used dry containers and completing onsite exterior and interior work to foundation work and determining the delivery route to the site. Thanks to this donation, the containers will serve as a warehouse for materials used to monitor coral, as well as a workshop and conference center as part of the coral transplantation and reproduction project led by EcoMode Society.
MOL plans to continue steady, long-term efforts to support various groups including EcoMode Society, as a part of our contributions to restoring the environment in Mauritius.
(*) EcoMode Society is a Mauritius-based group established as gathering of volunteers in 2012. It began full-scale activities as an NGO in 2016.The group focuses mainly on ocean environmental protection such as beach cleanup and coral faming.
- [Handover of MOL-dispatched team on site]
- Three members of the third MOL-dispatched team completed their onsite mission, which began in September, and went back to their countries by Saturday, November 21. The remaining team members continue activities focusing on more deeply rooted in the local community under the leader of the dispatched team.
- (updated on November 13, 2020)
- [Handover ceremony for oil absorbents]
A ceremony on Thursday, November 5, marked the handover of oil absorbents donated by Japanese companies to the Mauritius Port Authority (MPA). The MOL dispatched team was on hand, as our company transported the materials. Supplies and equipment have been presented several times since late August.
At this ceremony, MPA Chairman Maistry Ramalingum talked about the dispatched teams' support activities since the incident occurred, and expressed his appreciation for the Japanese companies(*) that contribute to MPA operations through the donation of oil absorbents. The leader of the MOL team also addressed the ceremony, saying it was an honor to attend as a representative of the company transporting the materials, and then signed the handover document.
The MOL Group continues to contribute to environmental restoration efforts in Mauritius, not only through the activities of the dispatched team, but also by transporting supplies to the site from Japan and other countries.
(*) In this case, oil absorbents were provided by the three companies of Showa Denko Materials Co., Ltd., Teijin Frontier Co., Ltd., and NEOS COMPANY LIMITED. In August, Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., Ltd. has also provided materials, which have already been presented to a local organization involved in the cleanup.
The materials to be transported are determined based on local needs, but we have also been receiving offers of materials from many other companies.
- (updated on October 30, 2020)
- [Distribution of original T-shirts and facemasks]
On Friday, October 16, and Monday, 26th, our original T-shirts and facemasks, prepared by MOL, were distributed at the oil spill cleanup site. The T-shirt distribution was based on a proposal from local people after members of the MOL-dispatched team met and exchanged opinions with many residents and groups. The T-shirts are mainly for local citizens, including fishermen who are involved in the cleanup work, to wear as the inner layer of their personal protective equipment (PPE).
The design was selected from among ideas submitted through an MOL internal process in September, and we entrusted a local company in Mauritius with production and delivery. Then all the team members visited the cleanup site to distribute the items.
At the event, the team leader introduced our company, explained the intent of the distribution, and then handed out the unique T-shirts and cloth face masks to many appreciative recipients. We received exceptionally good reviews from local people regarding the design of the blue and white T-shirts. The colors were determined after consultation with the local company about local people's favorite colors. The site was bustling as some cleanup workers changed into their new T-shirts, and some wanted to save the shirts for their families.
This is a small initiative, but we will keep doing our best with other local dispatched teams to conduct activities that convey MOL's wishes directly to local residents.
- (updated on October 23, 2020)
- [2nd-dispatched team completes their assignment; 4th team arrives on site]
- On Friday, October 16, six members of the MOL second dispatched team, who had worked in Mauritius since the end of August, have left the site, and on Thursday, October 22, two new members arrived as our fourth dispatched team. The team plans to officially join local activities after the government-designated isolation period and confirmation of their PCR testing results.
- (updated on October 16, 2020)
- [Visiting local school]
On Friday, October 9, the MOL-dispatched team visited a public school in Bois Des Amourettes, which had been forced to close for four days due to the offensive odor caused by the oil spill. The team presented all students with sets of stationery, origami cranes and shuriken throwing stars, with our sincere hopes that they will find our gifts useful in their studies.
- [Hand-over of the team leader, and future contribution]
On the same day, Friday, October 9, the leader and subleader of the first MOL-dispatched team officially left their posts. With this, the entire first team, who played active roles on site since August 12, completed their missions and returned to Japan.
The seven members of the first team (including one who joined on site after the others) had taken the lead in MOL's activities during the period of turmoil immediately after the oil spill. The team's activities ranged from grasping the status of onsite efforts and serving as a liaison with MOL's task force to determining the types of cleaning equipment and tools, and relief supplies needed and arranging to have them delivered, and sharing information and building relationships with governments of both Japan and Mauritius, organizations responding to the oil spill, NPOs, and the local Japanese Association. We would like to express our thanks to everyone involved and all the people who helped the first dispatched team upon their arrival and throughout their stay.
The MOL-dispatched team have made courtesy visits to concerned government agencies and private organization and explained about the handover. They also have been holding meetings and discussions with concerned local parties to develop stronger relationships before the launch of operations at the MOL office in Mauritius.
Successive teams will play a central role in efforts to further contribute to the environment and communities in Mauritius.
- (updated on October 9, 2020)
- [Origami classroom sessions held at local schools]
On Tuesday, October 6, members of the MOL-dispatched team visited two local schools. At the Special Education Needs (SEN) School they visited in the morning, they created paper airplanes with the children and then went outdoors to see them fly. We also presented other origami works made by the team leader that the students could play with, such as cranes and shuriken throwing stars.
That afternoon, they visited an Elementary School in Mahebourg and presented three origami classroom sessions for fifth- and sixth-grade students. A total of nine team members from MOL took part in the sessions as the origami teacher and assistants, helping all the students fold their own origami cranes. In addition, they donated several books to both schools with their best wishes for local children who were temporarily restricted from playing outside due to the oil spill.
The MOL team on site will continue activities to listen to the voices of local citizens.
- (updated on October 2, 2020)
- [Prospective placement of reefer container determined]
On Friday, September 18, the MOL-dispatched team in Mauritius met with the Ministry of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping and Agricultural Marketing Board (AMB), and started considering the AMB site as the first choice as the location for the reefer container, which was donated by MOL and delivered on Friday, September 11.
This reefer container was transported from Singapore to Port Louis via an MOL car carrier. The donation reflects MOL's commitment to supporting the lives of those working in the local fishing industry by helping them develop a cold supply chain, based on a request the MOL team received from the Minister of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping.
The team will install and set up the reefer container for local people to use as soon as possible, while proceeding with various preparations to provide a power source, install emergency door release switches (panic buttons), and place dividers inside the container so it can be used by several fishermen's unions.
- (updated on September 25, 2020)
- [Third MOL-dispatched team arrived in Mauritius]
New four members as third MOL-dispatched team have arrived at the site on Monday, September 21. In accordance with the Mauritian government's instruction to prevent the spread of COVID-19, they are planned to spend 14 days in quarantine at designated place.
In addition, the first and second MOL team, which have started their activities after a period of isolation, are now conducting their activities in several separated working groups (WG), such as Oil Removal/Cleaning WG, and Logistics/Material Supply WG, etc. They are meeting local organizations and companies for consecutive days and exchanging information with Mauritian and Japanese government officials and Experts. News and progress are planned to be shared here, in our site.
- (updated on September 17, 2020)
- [Courtesy call to the Prime Minister of Mauritius]
On the morning of Thursday, September 10, the MOL-dispatched team have made a courtesy visit to Prime Minister of Republic of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, at the New Treasury Building in Port Louis.
The leader of the dispatched team explained the background of the incident and MOL's stance, and then discussed our future initiatives. The team received favorable comments from the prime minister about the way the country views our initiatives. The prime minister also discussed his expectations for the team of experts dispatched by the Japanese government, support that the country will request from MOL in the future, and so on. In addition, he readily agreed to receive a visit from members of the MOL representative office slated to open in Mauritius after they assume their duties in October, and pledged close cooperation in the future.
- [Public-private delivery ceremony for cleaning equipment]
On the same day, a public-private ceremony to mark the delivery of cleaning equipment was held at Blue Bay Marine Park Centre with concerned parties from both Mauritius and Japan in attendance, including MOL-dispatched team.
Mauritius Minister of the Environment Kavydass Ramano and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mauritius Yoshiharu Kato represented their respective governments at the event. In his opening address, Minister Ramano expressed his appreciation for Japan's ongoing support, including the provision of equipment, other relief supplies. When presenting the cleaning equipment, the leader of MOL-dispatched team said, "The provision of equipment and relief supplies is the first step, and we will continue mid-to-long-term support for Mauritius."
- [Delivery ceremony for reefer container(*1)]
On Friday, September 11, a delivery ceremony for an MOL-donated reefer container was held at a pier in Port Louis after the MOL car carrier Prominent Ace, the vessel carried the container, arrived in port.
This donation reflects MOL's commitment to supporting the lives of those working in the local fishing industry by helping them develop a cold supply chain(*2) and was based on a request the MOL team received during a meeting with the Minister of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping. We transported a reefer container from Singapore to Port Louis via an MOL car carrier, which was scheduled to call at these ports.
At the delivery ceremony, the Ministry's Director of Fisheries expressed his appreciation and his hopes for economic support for the fisheries industry in the future. The leader of the MOL team pledged our continued support for Mauritius.
In addition to planning of the optimal location for the reefer container, MOL pledges ongoing efforts on support for local communities and people such as those who depend on the fishing business.
(*1) MOL donated a 40ft (about 12m) container. Refrigeration temperature can be set in the container.
(*2) The donation of the container ensures that marine products can be refrigerated as soon as possible after they are caught and preserved before shipping. The container will help local fishermen who, due to the oil spill, must now go further out to sea to harvest their catch.
- (updated on September 10, 2020)
The first MOL-dispatched team, after completing their 14-day isolation period, began full-scale activities on Wednesday, August 26.
They have examined measures and contributions that MOL can or must do, formulated plans, and put them into action. They listened to the views of more than 50 people representing about 30 organizations in all (Note), including officials from government agencies in both Mauritius and Japan, NGOs and other groups, and the local Japanese Association. The team also participated regularly in local emergency response meetings and worked to gain a thorough grasp of the local situation by gathering information from various perspectives through a designated local shipping agency and gained support to ensure that the team's on-site activities will proceed smoothly.
(Note) As of Monday, September 7
Six members of the second MOL team, who arrived in Mauritius by Sunday, August 30, finished their second round of PCR testing on Saturday, September 5. They are continually engaged in information gathering and holding discussions with concerned parties at their isolation site (a local hotel), in preparation for their activities after Sunday, September 13, when their Mauritius government-mandated isolation period ends.
- (updated on August 28, 2020)
On Wednesday, August 12, six MOL employees arrived on the site, with the aim of cooperating with the parties on the local site and local authorities, collect information, and provide support in preventing the spread of the oil spill and recovering the leaked oil.
- Locally, they were required to isolate for 14 days after entering the country, based on the Government of Mauritius' measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but they have focused on collection and negotiations with other parties and planning the action agenda after their isolation. Restrictions on some of the six employees were lifted as an exception, and they are now engaged in activities such as participation in various meetings, negotiation with other organizations. On Thursday, August 27, all of them were permitted to go outside, and since then, they have participated in local emergency response meetings and discussed with the local authorities.
In addition, MOL dispatched experts in inventory and logistics management from one of MOL group companies, MOL Logistics (Japan) Co., Ltd., to handle inventory management and delivery of items needed in cleanup activities on the local site. They left Japan on August 21 and started the work immediately after arriving on the site on Saturday, August 22.
Later on, several employees are scheduled to depart during August. They may be required to isolate for 14 days after entering the country under COVID-19 restrictions as well as the first six members, but they make effort to take measures to meet local needs based on the country's readiness to accept them, and limits on the range of their activities after entering the country.
(2) Natural environmental protection and recovery project and social contribution activities
Under the "Protecting and restoring the natural environment" project announced on September 11, MOL has engaged in long-term activities to assist local communities and industries including fishing and other marine products, and tourism, as well as protection and nurturing of mangroves, restoration of coral reefs, and support of research on the protection of wild birds and rare species. Since announcing the project, we have assessed the impact of the incident in cooperation with experts and research institutes in various fields. Including those initiatives, we will report our activities as below.
- (Updated on February 26, 2021)
- [Cooperation with local NGO in activities to support fishermen]
Caritas Mauritius is a Mauritius-based international non-government organization (NGO) founded in 1965. It works under the following mission: "An initiative in which charity would at the same time be devotion and expertise." MOL decided to cooperate in their project that supports fishermen and their families whose activities were negatively affected by the oil spill.
Following the Wakashio oil spill incident, the Mauritian government declared the area from Blue Bay to Trou d'Eau Douce as a restricted zone, and completely banned access to the sea and fishing activities. Caritas Mauritius' activities in response to this situation initially focused on emergency relief service. Then, based on an in-depth survey to identify the impact and the needs of people in the affected areas, their activities grew into a laudable and innovative project that encompassed occupational training and housing assistance for the socially vulnerable, to provide short-term support for fishermen and their immediate families who were affected by the incident.
MOL asked Dr. Naoki Tojo (*), a fisheries expert, to conduct a survey on how to best support fisheries sector in Mauritius and determine the effectiveness of the Caritas Mauritius' project for fishermen in Trou d'Eau Douce. Based on careful verification by Dr. Tojo's survey, MOL agreed to support this initiative and decided to contribute to the implementation of the project. The project will provide fishermen with new equipment and training programs on alternative ways to earn a living, such as backyard gardening, farming, and breeding chickens.
(*)As of February 2021, Dr. Naoki Tojo is an assistant professor at Hokkaido University Graduate School of Fisheries Sciences.
Communication and interaction with local fishermen helped us learn how the community was responding to MOL's activities, so we will seek additional ways to provide practical support for these fishermen. We have come up with ideas such as providing advanced training in fishing outside of the lagoon or enhancement of the value chain to preserve the quality and distribution of their catch. Through cooperation with Caritas Mauritius, MOL continues to provide more useful support for fishermen in Mauritius.
- (Updated on January 18, 2021)
- [Cooperation with local NGO in mangrove research and conservation]
Reef Conservation(*) is a Mauritius-based NGO engaged in environmental conservation of the nation's coastline and lagoon through community conservation, research, and education. Considering the environmental impact of the oil spill, MOL decided to donate to the organization and cooperate in its project to survey and protect mangrove forests.
MOL asked Dr. Toyohiko Miyagi, a mangrove expert who also played a key role as a member of the Japanese government's Disaster Relief Team immediately after the incident, to join the field survey and supervise the project. In cooperation with Dr. Miyagi, we plan to apply advanced Japanese technologies in the NGO's mangrove monitoring program. We will work with Reef Conservation to restore a healthier environment than before the incident by supporting ecological surveys of mangrove forests, not only in areas contaminated by the incident, but throughout Mauritius.
- (Updated on December 18, 2020)
As a part of the Natural Environmental Protection and Recovery Project, MOL has been conducting a survey of the impact on birds in cooperation with Yamashina Institute for Ornithology and BirdLife International Tokyo. Hereunder, we would like to introduce a column by Masayoshi Kamioki, a Research Fellow at BirdLife International Tokyo*, who has been conducting local survey in Mauritius since October 25. In order to restore Mauritius' original, beautiful nature and ecosystems, MOL will continue its contributions to support the recovery of the environment.
- [Surveying the impact on birds]
Research Fellow, BirdLife International Tokyo
The most famous bird in Mauritius is the "dodo" we remember from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and "Pokémon." T-shirts and ornaments with the "dodo" design are lined up in rows at souvenir shops. However, the dodo went extinct about 300 years ago due to overhunting and deforestation by settlers.
Even now, the island's original environment has been damaged by resort development, sugar cane fields covering most of the island, and invasive alien species. Today, less than 20% of the land is forested (and only about 2% of the native forestland remains), a far cry from the days when forests covered the entire country.(Note1) Rare endemic species such as the Pink Pigeon, Mauritius Kestrel, and Mauritius Fody inhabit the small areas of surviving forest, and conservation activities are underway by the National Parks and Conservation Service(Note2) and The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation(Note3).
In first days after the oil spill occurred, we were concerned about direct damage from the oil slick killing these rare species and waterbirds in coastal areas. There is only one Striated Heron reported to be found dead shortly after the oil had reached the coast in August(Note4). Fortunately, however, the oil spill had no impact of the forest habitats of the island's endangered species, and local residents and cleaning companies acted swiftly to collect the spilled oil, so as of December, we have no other confirmed case of directly damaged birds.
On the other hand, the indirect/mid- and long-term impacts are unknown. We need to continually monitor not only the polluted areas but also non-polluted areas, even after the completion of oil collection and cleanup. The extinct dodo is gone forever, but as we work to restore Mauritius' original, beautiful nature and ecosystem, I feel it is indispensable to preserve and protect the environment of inland areas of the island, as well as coastal areas affected by the oil spill.
Note 1: Reference materials:
Norder et al. (2017) Assessing temporal couplings in social–ecological island systems: historical deforestation and soil loss on Mauritius (Indian Ocean). Ecology and Society22: 29.
Note 2: National Parks and Conservation Service：A government organization that manages the national park and protects rare species.
Note 3: The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation：An NGO that engages in conservation of rare species inhabiting Mauritius.
Note 4: J.H. Garadenne & L. Kihumba (August 13, 2020), Mauritius oil spill: environmental crisis unfolds, BirdLife International.
A "wader" mentioned in the above article is confirmed to be a Striated Heron.
* BirdLife International is one of the oldest international environmental NGOs in the world, founded in the United Kingdom in 1922, working together towards the sustainable use of natural resource. The organization strives to conserve birds, their habitats, and global biodiversity.(Check here for introductory video)
Masayoshi Kamioki is a Research Fellow at BirdLife International Tokyo. He has arrived in Mauritius on October 25, and has been carrying out local survey of the WAKASHIO incident's impact on birds in cooperation with Taku Mizuta of Yamashina Institute for Ornithology and local organization, as a part of the Natural Environmental Protection and Recovery Project of MOL.
(3) Procuring supplies and equipment, transporting them to the site
MOL has procured supplies and equipment (*) used to collect and remove leaked oil and arranged for emergency transport. The first items arrived on the site on Sunday, August 23. The six MOL members on the site are in discussions with some of the organizations involved to ensure their effective use in the necessary spots. They received thanks from government leaders including the vice prime minister at the incident emergency response meeting. The second shipment of items were to be scheduled to arrive around Friday, August 28. We will continue planning to provide necessary items for on-site cleanup of the oil spill.
In addition, MOL is arranging a 40ft (about 12meters) reefer container for the site, at the request of those involved with the local fishing industry. In addition, we also plan to send supplies and equipment by container. We will use our car carriers to transport other items.
(*) Oil absorbents, protective suits, helmets, gloves, dust-proof glasses, facemasks, etc.
We will continue to update our activities on this page. MOL and the shipowner are committed to addressing the situation as soon as possible, in cooperation with concerned authorities of Mauritius and Japan.
(4) Organizational response
The "Mauritius Environmental and Social Contribution Team" was established within the MOL Corporate Planning Division as of Tuesday, September 1. The new team's responsibilities are shown in the chart below. Three full-time members were officially appointed and have already started their activities. Furthermore, we plan to enhance the structure of the team by assigning about 10 members who will take part in team activities in addition to their regular duties in other divisions.
|Mauritius Environmental and Social Contribution Team||Initiatives to restore the environment in Mauritius, measures to support communities and industries, negotiations related to the environmental and social contributions (government, environmental organizations and NGOs, communities)|
(5) Dialogue with environmental NGOs and experts
On Tuesday, September 15, we have held an online roundtable with the participation of environmental NGOs acting globally, and experts on environmental issues to exchange views on MOL's support for Mauritius. Representatives from a total of 10 companies and organizations expressed a wide range of opinions on our environmental recovery and local contribution measures announced on September 11.
Helped by these valuable suggestions, we will keep seeking the advice of experts, and continue to implement assistance and contribution activities for Mauritius.
MOL is engaged in a variety of other activities. Activities that do not directly fit in above categories will be introduced below.
- (Updated on April 2, 2021)
- [Picture Book about Oil Spill Published in Mauritius]
Last November, a picture book called WAKASHIO -OIL SPILL IN PARADISE - was published in Mauritius. The books are on display in hotels and schools, and some of the sales proceeds will be donated to support people affected by the incident, through a local NGO.
The book is written in two languages, English and French, and with easy-to-understand sentences and pictures, the feelings and questions of the residents directly impresses the readers. It also chronologically explains how the accident happened and how it affected local residents.
MOL purchased 100 copies of the book and will distribute and display them within the group, with two objectives-helping us understand the local perception of this incident and sharing awareness so that we never again allow such an incident to occur.
We interviewed the book's author, Sunniva Bonieux, and asked her to talk about the story behind the book, what she thought about the incident after witnessing it, and how she felt about the effects afterwards.
- - Who am I?
I am Sunniva. I am from Norway, but I have been living in Mauritius for almost nine years.
I am married to a Mauritian and we have two little boys.
We live in Pointe d’Esny, which is the village next to where the WAKASHIO ran aground.
We use the beach and lagoon as our backyard on a daily basis and have been seeing the WAKASHIO every day since the incident.
The evening of the incident our friends told us there was a boat on the reef and my husband took our boat out to see what was happening up close.
He was volunteering, helping to put out booms(*) from the first day of the oil spill. Through his work and long days at sea, I got most of the information that I used to write the book.
(*) A control material for preventing the spread of oil spills. Also known as oil fence.
- - And is this your first book?
- Yes, the book is a completely new direction for me.
- - Why was it important for you to put this story on paper and to focus on the younger generation?
- I thought it would be a good idea to keep a chronology of the various events that followed the grounding.
I think that kids have a lot of questions and it is nice to be able to explain to them what happened and why it happened, and a book with illustrations is the best way to do so.
- - How would you describe what you felt when you learnt about the shipwreck?
- I was shocked and very sad.
First, knowing that this massive ship was crushing our beautiful and healthy reef.
Then when we learned that the ship was carrying 4,000 tons of bunker fuel oil, I was extremely worried about what a leak could do to the area.
Days were passing, and from what I could see not much was done to remove the oil from the ship.
I was worried a leak would happen, and when it happened it felt like a nightmare that had become a reality.
- - Tell us more about your book, what does it contain?
- As I briefly mentioned it tells the factual chronology of events that followed the grounding of WAKASHIO.
I have an illustration on each page that relates to the text next to it.
The illustrations are aquarelles by a local artist and a friend of mine, Valentine Montocchio.
The text is in both English and French.
- - How did you get the idea of writing a book?
Living in Pointe d'Esny, we were right in the middle of the whole WAKSHIO saga.
We followed the evolution of the salvage operation as we are directly impacted, like everyone that lives around here.
With so much attention on the WAKASHIO and the series of unfortunate events that have happened since the wreck.
I thought to myself: surely people will want to have a book that summarizes all this.
It is not every day that a 300-meter ship crashes on our reef and starts an oil spill!
- - What is the core message behind it?
- The message we want to pass on in the book is the amazing unity that the Mauritian population showed right after the oil spill.
But also, the feeling of helplessness and frustration as we followed the events with very little explanation from our government officials.
The Mauritian population was deeply moved by this catastrophe and we do not intend to forget what happened and how it happened.
I hope that through this book, the readers will have a better understanding of the whole chronology of events.
- - What are your impressions of the Mauritians who decided to help?
- It was amazing to see how everyone got together to help.
People would not hesitate to jump into the oil if needed and everyone was coordinating very well together to make things happen.
- - According to you, what should be done in the future to prevent this kind of disaster from hitting us again?
- In the first place, that boat should never have landed where it did.
It should have been picked up by our radar.
So I think the priority is to have a better qualified/trained coast guard that can recognize a threat coming our way, and act to prevent it.
- - What have you heard about MOL, the charterer of the bulk carrier?
- I confess that I am not very familiar with shipping companies such as MOL. Prior to the WAKASHIO grounding, I had never heard of them. I got to meet Mr. Goro Yamashita at a community market in Pointe Jerome.
I was selling my book there and Mr. Yamashita approached me and introduced himself and his company MOL.
The incident had a serious impact on the beautiful evironment of Mauritius and the people who live there.
Through the MOL Group's teamwork and effort, we are working to build awarness of this incident among employees throughout the entire group, show emphathy with the feelings of those affected by the incident, and push forward with the restoration of the natural environment and mid-to-long-term social contribution activities.
3. Press release briefing on September 11, 2020
4. List of press releases related to the incident
- Dec 18, 2020MOL reports Measures to prevent reoccurrence based on possible causes of the Wakashio Grounding Incident
- Sep 11, 2020MOL Announces Initiatives aiming for recovery of Environmental Damage from the Wakashio Incident, and to Contribute to the Mauritian Community
- Sep 01, 2020Capesize Bulker "Wakashio" Aground off Mauritius (Update 8)
- Aug 25, 2020Capesize Bulker "Wakashio" Aground off Mauritius (Update 7)
- Aug 21, 2020Capesize Bulker "Wakashio" Aground off Mauritius (Update 6)
- Aug 19, 2020Capesize Bulker "Wakashio" Aground off Mauritius (Update 5)
- Aug 16, 2020Capesize Bulker "Wakashio" Aground off Mauritius (Update 4)
- Aug 13, 2020Capesize Bulker "Wakashio" Aground off Mauritius (Update 3)
- Aug 11, 2020Capesize Bulker "Wakashio" Aground off Mauritius (Update 2)
- Aug 07, 2020Capesize Bulker "Wakashio" Aground off Mauritius
Time line after the incident (local time)
- Sat., Jul. 25 The vessel ran aground on Mauritius Island while underway from China to Brazil (around dawn, Sunday, August 26, Japan Standard Time). The shipowner requested a salvage team on the same day.
- Fri., Jul. 31 The advance team of the salvage company arrived on site by airplane. It required a longer time than a normal dispatch due to require PCR testing.
- Tue., Aug. 4 The second team of the salvage company arrived on site aboard the salvage boat. The shipowner-arranged salvage operation began, but was hampered by adverse weather.
- Thu., Aug. 6 About 1,000 tons of bunker fuel oil on the vessel leaked in the middle of the salvage operation.
- Wed., Aug. 12Besides the oil leaking from the vessel, almost all the bunker oil remaining on the vessel was recovered.
- Sat., Aug. 15 The hull split completely in two.
- Thu., Aug. 19Refloating operation of the forward part of the hull was completed.
- Mon., Aug. 24The forward part of the hull was scuttled in the waters off Mauritius.
Outline of the vessel
Name: Wakashio (bulk carrier)
No. of seafarers: 20 (Indian, Sri Lankan, Filipino)
Flag registry: Panama
Shipowner: Okiyo Maritime (an affiliate of Nagashiki Shipping Co., Ltd.) * MOL time-chartered the vessel