A Japanese tanker collided several days ago with a small Indian vessel 470km west of the Nicobar and Andaman Archipelago, spilling over 4,500 tonnes of oil into the Indian Ocean.
India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands are an island chain in the eastern Indian Ocean, located southeast of the Indian subcontinent, separated by the Bay of Bengal by about 1,300km.
Based on preliminary reports by the Indian coast guard, there seems to be no immediate threat to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands due to prevalent sea conditions and the distance where the accident occurred.
Although the Japanese tanker spilled light oil, which tends to evaporate rather quickly, WWF-India hopes that the extent of damage to the environment will be minimal, and is calling on the Indian government to put in place stronger safeguards to prevent such incidents in the future.
If the oil spill had reached the Andaman and Nicobar coasts, much of the rich marine biodiversity could have been threatened, including 12,000km2 of coral reefs, and such marine species as dugongs, marine turtles, dolphins, and blue and sperm whales. Such spills can also severely impact local fishing communities who relay on the ocean for their livelihoods.