The IMO Secretariat has noted with concern recent factually inaccurate reporting in certain media outlets regarding the Organization's s role in the response to the oil spill caused by the grounding of the MV Wakashio off the coast of Mauritius.
The IMO is the UN body primarily charged with the development of uniform, global regulations to ensure safe, secure, sustainable and efficient shipping. The main bodies of regulation concern navigation rules, prevention of pollution from ships, and maritime safety and security to prevent casualties from occurring, and the development and implementation of response systems and liability and compensation regimes when casualties, such as the MV Wakashio incident, do occur.
The IMO also maintains some capacity to provide technical assistance to Governments in the event of oil spills if requested. For instance, this assistance may consist of IMO staff or consultants being deployed to the scene to provide advice, based on its experience on containment and clean-up operations.
An IMO expert was deployed to Mauritius by IMO and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) immediately following a request for assistance from the Government of Mauritius. He was on scene from 12 August to 4 September.,
The expert's role was to support the Government of Mauritius by providing technical advice on issues related to oil spill response. He took part in a number of field visits and operational meetings and liaised with the various stakeholders of both public and private sectors involved in the response efforts.
The advice provided by the IMO expert was specific to oil spill response and related matters – such as clean-up strategies, communication, guidance for volunteers, incident management, etc. His mandate also included assisting with possible follow-up actions, including a review of the national oil spill contingency plan.
The expert was not involved in decisions related to the salvage and disposal of the MV Wakashio, which was solely managed by SMIT Salvage, in consultation with the ship owner and the Government of Mauritius. The expert equally had no role in vetting offers of international assistance from other nations. The expert provided advice only insofar as it related to oil spill response matters.
On the matter of sinking of the fore part of the ship, IMO had contacted relevant Parties to the 1972 Convention on the prevention of marine pollution from dumping of waste and other matter (the London Convention) before the sinking.
IMO, as a UN specialized agency committed to protecting the marine environment, has made its best efforts to support Mauritius in this incident, together with other UN organizations.
The Organization is deeply concerned about the severity of the casualty in this instance and looks forward to assisting the Government of Mauritius or any other Member State in this matter.