Government of Japan / Mitsui must pay for the oil spill in Mauritius

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The Government of Japan and Mitsui must fund the oil spill response in Mauritius

The oil spill now taking place off the Mauritian coast may become the biggest ever environmental disaster to affect the country.

The Japanese owned bulk carrier MV Wakashio struck a reef off the coast of Mauritius on July 25. Since then more than 1000 tons of diesel and bunker fuel have leaked into the ocean while a further 3000 tons still remains onboard at risk of leaking.

The oil has begun polluting large parts of the Mauritian coastline which are highly ecologically significant. These include the Pointe d'esny wetlands and the Blue Bay Marine Park - both are designated as internationally significant under the Ramsar Convention.

The growing oil slick threatens local communities reliant on fishing, tourism and related industries for their survival.

A speedy emergency response can reduce the extent of damage. Action must be taken now.

The MV Wakashio is flagged in Panama but owned by the Japanese company Nagashiki Shipping. This "flag of convenience" arrangement does not mean the Japanese company and government can avoid taking responsibility. The ship is operated by the giant Japanese corporation Mitsui OSK Lines – one of the largest shipping companies in the world (with a profit of US$10.6 billion in 2019). It was en-route from China to Brazil at the time of the disaster with no business in Mauritius.

Mauritius is a small and poor nation that is unable – without urgent international assistance – to launch the large emergency response needed to prevent oil from spreading and engulfing much of its coastline. Mauritius is also unable to bear the huge environmental and social cost of the spill and should not have to.

Japan is among the richest countries in the world with a GDP over US$5 trillion and among the highest tax revenue of any country. It is home to some of the largest and most powerful corporations – including Mitsui.

Mitsui OSK Lines' criminal negligence was the immediate cause of the disaster. However, after two full weeks the company offers only an apology and is yet to give any concrete assistance or even pledge any.

The Japanese Government has the power to force Mitsui OSK Lines to pay-up. But the emergency response needs full support now and cannot be held hostage to corporate delays and evasions. The Japanese government can, and must take responsibility to ensure the fastest and most effective response to preserve lives and the environment.

WE DEMAND THE GOVERNMENT OF JAPAN:

1. Immediately declare it will provide full funding and assistance to the emergency response.
2. Fully fund the long term clean up and environmental rehabilitation costs.
3. Pay compensation to all those Mauritian people who will suffer loss of livelihood, health problems and other impacts from this utterly unacceptable disaster.

Forward petition to Toshimitsu Motegi, foreign minister of Japan
c/o Embassy of Japan in Mauritius
Email japanembassy@mx.mofa.go.jp Level 6, Tower C, 1 Cybercity, Ebène 72201, Tel: (230) 460 2200.

Initial Signatories:
Alice Auckbur, Mauritian environmental activist, (Australia)
Andrew Ian Jameson, Maritime Union of Australia
Immanuel Ness, City University of New York

For more information please contact alice.auckbur@gmail.com