Declaration of Environmental Emergency Over Oil Spill in Mauritius
Yet another incidence of Oil Spillage, now in the Indian Ocean led to the declaration of Environmental Emergency in the island nation of Mauritius.
On Friday, 7th August an environmental emergency was declared in Mauritius; owing to the recent oil spill in the Indian Ocean by a ship. The cargo ship MV Wakashio, which was carrying 4,000 tonnes of oil, was shipwrecked by a coral reef off the Indian Ocean island on 25th July. The Conservationists widely criticized the government and blamed their sluggish response for having aggravated what they say could have been a minor accident to a nationwide emergency. The rough seas have further increased the problem of the government. Meanwhile, environmentalists and coastal people collaborated to prevent further spreading by deploying indigenous floating devices. Volunteers have been trying to absorb the oil using straws. They also made tubes with tights and hair to substantiate the efforts and have also been cleaning the beaches. At least 1,000 tonnes of oil is said to have leaked in the waters near Mauritius; 500 tonnes of which have been recovered but 2,500 tonnes still remains on the ship.
“People have realized that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora,” environmental activist Ashok Subron told AFP news agency. Environmentalists fear the oil spill is the worst ecological disaster in the island nation of Mauritius till now, and it would endanger the marine ecosystem and the pristine waters and beaches that attract thousands of tourists from around the globe every year. The enormous impact on the fishing and related industries is also a major concern of the people and government.
In a statement, the ship’s owner, Nagashiki Shipping, said that “due to the bad weather and constant pounding over the past few days, the starboard side bunker tank of the vessel has been breached and an amount of fuel oil has escaped into the sea and oil prevention measures are in place and an oil boom has been deployed around the vessel.” They also added that it “takes its environmental responsibilities extremely seriously and will take every effort with partner agencies and contractors to protect the marine environment and prevent further pollution”.
The oil spill was widely captured by satellites and several images were also released giving insight to the seriousness of the situation. Executive Vice President of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines apologized for the spill and “the great trouble we have caused” in a news conference Sunday in Tokyo, Akihiko Ono. He also said that the company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue”.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry informed that it will dispatch a six-person emergency response team at the request of the government of Mauritius. “We hope that this assistance will contribute to recovery of the environment of Mauritius and prevention of marine pollution,” they said.
Mauritius is the only African country to report no active COVID-19 cases. It had shut its borders in March and has seen less than a dozen deaths. Locals have been calling for reopening the borders as the economy relies heavily on the tourism sector. Last year, tourism contributed 63 billion Mauritius rupees ($2.2 billion) to the economy.