Global shipping regulator, London-based UN Agency, the International Maritime Organization released a statement on the effect of the fuel that spilled into the waters of Mauritius from Japanese vessel, The Wakashio, in which they admit they do not know the effects of releasing this amount of fuel (VLSFO) into the biodiversity-rich coral lagoons of Mauritius.
On 19 August 2020, an IMO spokesperson said “because this fuel is so new, research has only just been initiated on its fate and behavior in the environment, particularly over a longer period. We know that some of the oil companies are financing research on this, and oil research centers e.g. CEDRE and SINTEF, have initiated work, but we don’t have any concrete information on this as yet, given the relative newness of these bunkers. In terms of the response related to the release of this fuel, it looks and behaves essentially the same as any other bunker fuel spill. It’s really the longer term fate and effects that are not yet known.” Bunkers are the fuel oil used by ships
Over 1 million gallons of a particular type of ship engine fuel (technical name Very Low Sulfur Fuel Oil or VLSFO) was being transported by the Wakashio, one of the biggest ships in the world when it ran into the coral reefs of Mauritius.