Below is an open letter by Greenpeace Japan Executive Director Sam Annesley and Greenpeace Africa Interim Executive Director Lagi Toribau.

YOUR REACTION?

Junichiro Ikeda
Representative Director, President 
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.

Akihiko Ono
Executive Vice-president
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.

Masanori Kato 
Managing Executive Officer
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.

Kiyoaki Nagashiki
Chief Executive Officer
Nagashiki Shipping Co., Ltd

cc Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change
Hon. Kavydass Ramano
Government of Mauritius

cc Minister of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping
Hon. Sudheer Maudhoo
Government of Mauritius 

Johannesburg, 13 August, 2020

Mr Ikeda, Mr Kato, Mr Ono and Mr Nagashiki,

On the 25th of July 2020 your ship, the MV Wakashio struck a beautiful and irreplaceable coral reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast. On the 9th August you publicly expressed an apology for the environmental disaster that has been caused, but many unanswered questions remain. Why was your vessel sailing so dangerously close to the reef? Why have you done so little since the ship ran aground? What will you do to reduce the damage to the environment, and the pain and suffering of those whose livelihoods depend on it?

As you know, the oil in your ship started to leak on 6 August and it is destroying one of the most beautiful places in the world, along with the livelihoods of the people who live there. Your ship has created an environmental crisis and put the biodiversity within the lagoons at significant risk, including the mangrove forests and many unique and endangered species. 

Thousands of local people are battling night and day to try to contain the damage your ship is causing to their homelands and livelihoods. Furthermore, the world is watching, and we are watching. Despite the seriousness of the situation, your experts only arrived nearly 3 full weeks after the ship first ran aground on July 25. 

You have caused a major environmental disaster and thus far you have done little to reduce its consequences or take accountability for the damage caused. As a minimum we demand that you undertake:

  1. Full implementation of the Polluter Pays Principle. Your apology is a first step, but you need to take full responsibility and pay for all the current and future damages, including the lost livelihoods that you destroyed. All costs to nature that you caused must be compensated by you because without you there would be no disaster. You need to transparently account for what the full costs of this oil spill are, and pay for the damages that may not be covered by Japan P&I Club or other insurers. We call on you to be open and communicate with the local communities, to be proactive, timely and generous. COVID-19 has already closed Mauritius to tourism, and the destruction caused by your ship is pushing many more people towards poverty.
  2. Initiate and fund a fully public independent investigation into the causes and consequences of the disaster. This should also include the independent assessment of the ecosystems and the degree of impact both for humans and nature. This investigation should be done by independent academic-scientific experts who have a proven track record of investigating oil spills, and are unconnected to your company and Keiretsu. The investigators should also have no connection to the Government of Mauritius to remain truly independent. We do not consider the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation to be an independent body relying, as it does, on both the oil and tanker industries and geared towards their interests and not that of the environment or local communities. Their work should be supplemented by a fully independent investigation, the terms and results of which should be made publicly available. The funding for this investigation should be channelled through a local NGO with solid financial and ethical standing to ensure the money is not misused. We do not believe that using the Mauritius government’s Special Bank Account would allow for the transparency and accountability that is required.
  3. Commit to stop using this route. Make a commitment to stop using this route allowing ‘innocent passage’ through Mauritian waters as a recognition of the damage you have caused and future risks including from the climate crisis. This passage must be abandoned in order to ensure protection for the island. Ultimately, we believe that the Mauritian government should immediately initiate a review of separate transport shipping lanes to stop ‘innocent passage’ through Mauritian waters.
  4. Get out of fossil fuels. Take this as another warning (following also the 2006 accident with Mitsui OSK’s Bright Artemis) to your companies, and announce getting out of oil/gas as soon as possible. You should accelerate and lead the transition for all your vessels’ fuel from fossil fuel to sustainable renewable energy as a priority. Both companies should give up transporting coal, oil and gas. Mitsui OSK should also end any involvement in oil/gas production including around LNG. 

The climate crisis is an existential threat and in response to it, there is a movement consisting of millions of people across the world who are taking action. This oil spill is a tragic and devastating reminder that fossil fuels are toxic, and our reliance on them puts both people and the planet at risk. Now is the time to build a better future, and urgent action must be taken. We call on you to be an example and show that your apology is sincere and honourable, and that you are willing to back it up with action. We request a response from you to this letter – in writing – by 20 August 2020.

Yours sincerely.

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