Tuna fishing vessel runs aground off Mauritius

Eight months after the grounding of bulk carrier Wakashio on the south-east coast of Mauritius, another vessel has grounded off the island’s coast.

Chinese long liner Lu Rong Yuan Yu 588 (IMO 9708655) grounded on the reefs off Pointe-aux-Sables, close to Port Louis harbour on the north-western coast of Mauritius.

Tropical Storm Iman was believed to have been a contributing factor in the grounding, which occurred in the early evening of Sunday March 7th.

The captain sent a distress call to the Mauritius Radio Service at 17:38 local time. Mauritius’s National Coast Guard immediately sent several of its rescue teams to the site, but neither local fishermen nor the NCG could get close to the Lu Rong Yuan Yu 588 because of heavy weather and high waves.

A helicopter from the Mauritius Police Force was dispatched to evacuate the 16 crew members, which consisted of 14 Chinese nationals, one Indonesian and one Filipino. By 20:00 hours all had been evacuated safely and were at the Central Barracks, the police headquarters in Port-Louis.

The rescue crew will now have to quarantine at a local hotel.

Anti-pollution buoys were deployed around the vessel in case of spillage. Its tanks were reported to contain 130 tons of fuel.

Greece-based Five Oceans Salvage were expected to go onboard to assess the damage on Monday. Tug Ionian Sea FOS was already on site but was prevented from acting on Sunday night because of the bad weather.

The NCG has requested the assistance of the Mauritius Ports Authority (MPA), which runs Port-Louis harbour, so that one of its tugboats can help with the salvage operation.

Sudheer Maudhoo, Minister of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping said in a press statement on Sunday night that “since 06:15 the long liner had been asking for a go-ahead for bunkering and food. The health authorities had to get on board. The exercise could not take place because of the bad weather. It was therefore on stand-by when the accident occurred”.

Drone footage showed dark patches in the Indian Ocean waters near the vessel. “We hope to pump out all the fuel on board by tomorrow or the next day, then after four to five days, we will carry out a salvage operation to remove the ship,” Maudhoo added.

2013-built, China-flagged, 357 gt Lu Rong Yuan Yu 588 is owned by Rongcheng Goujiangjia Ocean of Shangdong, China.