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By Vel Moonien (gCaptain) –
MAURITIUS – Taiwanese trawler has run aground in Saint-Brandon in the Indian Ocean with diesel and fuel oil on board.
A crisis committee was set up to avoid a disaster in the archipelago belonging to Mauritius, notably because the Yu Feng had a little more than 7 tons of fuel oil and 70 tons of diesel in its tanks.
It got stuck on the coral reefs in the Saint Brandon archipelago, located 415 km north-northwest of the island of Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean, earlier this week. The trawler had left Port-Louis’ harbor last Saturday to fish in international waters bordering the Seychelles. It seems the captain wanted to take a shortcut to save fuel, which led to the accident near the South Island.
The Mauritian National Coast Guard (NCG) patrol vessel CGS Barracuda was dispatched to bring the 28 crew members back to Port Louis. It is expected to return this Saturday, depending on the weather conditions in the area. A crisis committee has been set up in Port-Louis to avoid an environmental disaster in the archipelago.
The captain and his first mate will be interrogated by police upon their arrival in Mauritius. The local representative of the fishing vessel has already informed the Mauritian authorities that the owner has decided not to work with him, which will complicate the removal of the wreck. A similar exercise was carried out seven years ago for the Malaysian trawler Kha Yang, which had drifted onto the reefs of Saint-Brandon.
The Kha Yang, carrying 20 crew members, had 25 tons of fuel oil in its tanks and 80 tons of bait on board. An international company specializing in salvage had then been commissioned to pump out the fuel oil as quickly as possible to avoid a disaster in this area, which is perceived as one of the few places where Mauritius’ marine resources are concentrated.
As the trawler could not be salvaged, operations were suspended during the winter before a decision was taken to abandon it on site. In return, the insurer agreed to pay compensation to the Mauritian government. Taiwanese trawlers also frequently break down at the site. In 2013, the “Yichuan 232” issued a distress call when it drifted and ran aground on the reefs with 27 crew members on board.
Last March, the Hong Kong-flagged MV Ore Shandong was drifting 110 nautical miles from Coco Island following a breakdown. The bulk carrier had 7,000 tons of fuel oil on board and was on its way to Brazil, from Singapore, with 23 crew members. The tug Alp Keeper was dispatched from Cape Town, South Africa, to provide assistance.
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