Cleaning up some of the oil that spilt from the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio off Mauritius. Picture: REUTERS/STEPHANE ANTOINE
Cleaning up some of the oil that spilt from the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio off Mauritius. Picture: REUTERS/STEPHANE ANTOINE

Tokyo — A shipping accident offshore Mauritius that polluted its beaches with fuel was partly caused by a lack of crew awareness, according to the Japanese company that chartered the vessel.

Mitsui OSK Lines also said the ship was using the wrong type of nautical charts as it veered towards the island nation and ran aground on July 25, president Junichiro Ikeda said at a press briefing Friday.

The ship, MV Wakashio, leaked about 1,000 tonnes of fuel when it began breaking apart last month, causing ecological damage as it fouled beaches and mangroves. The spill is expected to impact the marine and tourism industry that employs at least a fifth of the workforce in the Indian Ocean nation.

“The crew lacked awareness of the danger of the ship getting closer to the shore,” Ikeda said, adding that the nautical charts the ship was using at the time didn’t show detailed water depths and that waves from the south were also pushing the ship ashore.

The shipping ministry of Mauritius has completed an interim report that will serve as a basis for further investigations, though it hasn’t been released publicly. A separate report earlier this month by the Panama Maritime Authority said the ship had moved closer to the island to connect to Wi-Fi, Japan’s national broadcaster NHK reported.

Nagashiki Shipping, which owns the ship, said the company is unable to comment on the investigation. “The owner will not comment on these matters until the official process of the law is concluded,” it said in e-mailed responses to questions.

Mitsui OSK (MOL) also said on Friday that it’s committing ¥1bn ($9.4m) partly to help with the clean-up in Mauritius. About ¥800m will go into a fund over the next few years for the environmental recovery and protection of biodiversity, including mangroves, coral reefs and seabirds.

About ¥100m will go to NGOs and other groups in Mauritius, while the remainder is earmarked for expenses, including setting up an office in the country. Nagashiki Shipping will also donate money to the fund.

Bloomberg

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