Saturday, December 05, 2020
Environment Wildlife

Mauritius is reeling from a spreading oil spill

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Mauritius Is Reeling From A Spreading Oil Spill But It Has Brought The Best Out Of The Public.

MV Wakashio, a Japanese owned Panama-flagged bulk carrier ship leaks oil after drifting ashore over coral reefs. Etat-major des Armees/EPA handout

Many Mauritians are frustrated at the perceived lack of a swift response to the ecological disaster the Japanese oil carrier, now split in two, has caused.

A view of the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground on a reef in Mauritius. ©2020 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS

The environmental disaster that Mauritius is facing is starting to appear as its pristine waters turn black, its fish wash up dead, and its sea birds are unable to take flight, as they are limp under the weight of the oil covering them.

Volunteers collect leaked oil from the MV Wakashio bulk carrier that had run aground at the beach in Bois des Amourettes, Mauritius. Credit: AFP Photo

Centuries-old coral surrounds the tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean

Residents in Mauritius have been using homemade devices to try to limit the damage from the spill. 

The vessel had been transporting when it crashed into Mauritius’ coral reefs, had been released into the lagoon unleashing the worst ecological disaster in the Indian Ocean history.

Volunteers working to clean up oil which has come ashore.AFP

It was not clear how much more oil had been spilled since the split of the vessel on 15 August 2020, where oil could still be seen streaming from the vessel.

The Japanese vessel has been stuck since the end of July, but only began to break apart last week.Eric Villars/AP

Reuters noted that the area around Mauritius will feel a slow, insidious impact, as the corals and fish become the first to die off.

Image of stricken Japanese vessel, Wakashio, split in two off the coast of Mauritius on 16 August-AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

That means the remaining corals will be increasingly vulnerable to marine heatwaves, which are becoming more frequent and more extreme as the climate crisis unfolds.

A man scoops leaked oil from the vessel MV Wakashio, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park on August 8, 2020.

The Japanese owner of the vessel, Nagashiki Shipping Co Ltd, issued a statement on 16 August 2020 when asked how much oil had been spilled since 11 August 2020.

Bystanders look at MV Wakashio near Blue Bay Marine Park in Mauritius.

It was not clear from the statement how many gallons of heavy fuel oil had been leaked into the ocean and was unrecoverable.

This is a slow, insidious and totally avoidable disaster. Humanity has to find another way.

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