The MV Wakashio, a Japanese-owned and Panamanian-flagged bulk-carrier, was sailing without cargo when it grounded on a coral reef on 25 July in an environmentally sensitive and biodiverse area off the east coast of Mauritius. The cause is still unknown.

The spill is considered as the worst in the history of Mauritius. It has endangered coral, fish and other marine life, imperiling the economy, food security, health and the $1.6 billion tourism industry in the country, already suffering from the negative effects of COVID-19.

Small island nations face an existential and developmental threat from ship-source pollution endangering their vulnerable marine ecosystems and ocean economies. An effective international legal regime can help.