MAURITIUS DECLARES A STATE OF ENVIRONMENTAL EMERGENCY

An oil spill from a bulk carrier ship has started to ring bells of ecological disaster as marine life around the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius stands endangered. The country has pleaded for international help.

Happy Khambule, Greenpeace Africa’s climate and energy manager states “thousands of species around the pristine lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg are at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius’ economy, food security and health”.

As per the statements given by the government the Japanese shipMV Wakashio ran aground on a reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast two weeks ago (July 25, 2020) however the National Coast Guard hadn’t received any call of distress. The Panama flagged ship is owned by Okiyo Maritime Corporation and Nagashiki Shipping Co Ltd and was on a journey from China to Brazil. The government data says that the Japanese carrier ship was allegedly carrying 4,000 tons of fuel.

On Friday (7th August), the country declared an environmental emergency considering the large amounts of diesel and oil that had started to leak from a crack in the hull of the vessel. The satellite images of the area show the black liquid spilling into the turquoise waters near places that have been categorized to be ‘very sensitive’ environmental areas by the government.

MAURITIUS DECLARES A STATE OF ENVIRONMENTAL EMERGENCY

Kavy Ramano the environment minister of Mauritius said, “we are in a situation of environmental crisis”. Further she named certain areas like the Blue Bay Marine Park near the spot of the spill as to be very sensitive’.

Mauritius government did almost a decade ago release an environmental outlook that spoke of a National Oil Spill Contingency Plan however, as per the plan the current equipment could only deal with oil spills that were less than 10 metric tonnes. To deal will major spills, the nation could look up to other Indian Ocean countries and even international oil spill response organizations the government stated back then.

Mauritius’ closest neighbor is the island of Reunion (France) and the Foreign Ministry of France says that they are one of the largest trading partners and a leading foreign investor of Mauritius. Recently, PM Pravind Jugnauth said that they are requesting their neighboring country France for help.

The PM said, “our country doesn’t have the skills and expertise to refloat stranded ships, so I have appealed for help from France”.

In the view of the country’s PM, the country is coping with the adverse effects of the pandemic and further this oil spill ‘represents a danger’ for a country with a population of 1.3 million (approx.) people whose economy heavily relies on tourism.


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