Port Louis - Japan's Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd said on Friday it would spend about 1 billion yen ($9.42 million) to pay for measures to help Mauritius, including the clean-up of the mangrove forest and contribution to an environmental recovery fund. A bulk carrier chartered by the Japanese shipping company ran aground on a reef in Mauritius on July 25 and later began leaking oil, causing a marine ecological disaster around the Indian Ocean island.
"We will provide long-term contributions to the environment and the society of Mauritius with the support and cooperation of experts and organizations with specialized knowledge of environmental restoration and protection," the company said in a statement. Mitsui OSK plans to contribute about 800 million yen over several years to establish a Mauritius natural environment recovery fund and another 100 million yen to several local NGOs and local funds established by public agencies such as Mauritius government and United Nations. It will send its employees to Mauritius to replace some of the 13 staff who have already been sent. In addition, the shipping company plans to provide further support to local fishing and tourism industries, though details will be worked out later. The MV Wakashio, owned by Japan's Nagashiki Shipping, began spilling oil on Aug. 6, prompting the Mauritian government to announce a state environmental emergency.
Scientists say that the full impact of the spill is still unfolding but that the damage could affect Mauritius and its tourism-dependent economy for decades. The wildlife at risk include the seagrasses blanketing sand in the shallow waters, clownfish living in coral reefs, mangroves systems, and the critically endangered Pink Pigeon, endemic to the island. Japan has told Mauritius it would offer support on an "unprecedented scale", Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Monday.