The captain of the MV Wakashio, Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar, was arrested in Mauritius on August 18 on the charge of endangering safe navigation. This charge comes following an incident on July 25 during which the Japanese-owned ship, carrying some 4,000 tons of oil, ran aground into a coral reef just off Mauritius’ coast (New York Times, BBC).

The incident resulted in the release of an estimated 1,000 tons of oil into the Indian Ocean. The spill stretches from Point D’Esny to Ile-aux-Aigrettes, near two protected marine ecosystems as well as the Blue Bay Marine Park wetland reserve. Though this spill is smaller than most in recent memory, its unique proximity to key biodiversity hotspots has elevated the level of the crisis (BBC). Scientists predict that the incident will impact both the environment and Mauritius’s ecotourism-driven economy for decades to come. The Mauritian government has declared a state of national environmental emergency (Reuters).

Japan has thus far deployed two teams, comprising diplomats, coast guards, and environmental experts, to aid Mauritius in resolving the crisis (Al Jazeera). On August 20, Mauritian authorities began operations to scuttle the MV Wakashio. While officials have said that the scuttling exercise will not cause further environmental damage, the international environmental group, Greenpeace has stated that such an action will certainly lead to more pollution (Reuters).