The operator of a Japanese-owned bulk carrier that crashed into a reef in late July, causing a widespread oil spill in Mauritius, will pay at least $9.4 million over several years to fund environmental projects and support local fishing communities.
The spill took place near the coastal areas of southeast Mauritius, an area of international importance because of its environmentally protected ecosystems and wetlands. Experts say about 1,000 tons of fuel leaked from the ship into the surrounding blue lagoons — a favorite location for the filming of numerous Bollywood movies because of its turquoise waters, which now are stained black.
Mauritius previously asked Japan to provide at least $34 million to assist with the lasting ramifications of the spill.
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines said Friday that the Mauritius Natural Environment Recovery Fund would be used to support mangrove protection, coral reef restoration, and the protection of seabirds and rare species.
In addition, the company said, it will continue to support local fishing and tourism, though details of that support have not been announced.
The Mauritius government has estimated the country has sustained $30 million in damage as a result of the spill.
Early this week, the maritime authority of Panama, where the ship is registered, announced it was in the early stages of an investigation into the spill and suggested human error caused the accident. The ship’s captain and first officer have been arrested and charged with endangering safe navigation.
Recently, tens of thousands of individuals protested in Mauritius over the government’s slow response to the spill and the discovery of dozens of dead dolphins, whose cause of death has not yet been determined.
Source: Voice of America