MV Wakashio causes environmental catastrophe in Mauritius
A Japanese ship ran aground off Mauritius, spilling tons of oil into the water. Volunteers try to contain the flows, but the bulk carrier threatens to break. Here is what you need to know about this disaster.
“We are in a situation of environmental crisis“, Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth told reporters this weekend of August 8, 2020. The Japanese ship MV Wakashio ran aground on a reef on the southeast coast of the island, at the end of July, for a reason not yet confirmed.
The crew was safely evacuated. On the other hand, in its hold, the bulk carrier contained nearly 4,000 tonnes of oil. As it flowed out of the hull, the fuel oil set off an oil spill. It is an ecological disaster, in a precious and protected area.
Mauritian authorities have demanded that the public, including fishermen, stay away from the area. After hoping to contain the situation at the end of July, the government finally appealed for assistance from France.
“The sinking of the Wakashio represents a danger for Mauritius. Our country does not have the skills and expertise to refloat stranded ships, which is how I sought French help from Emmanuel Macron, “wrote the Prime Minister of Mauritius. Japan also sent experts to work alongside the French and Mauritian teams.
BIODIVERSITY IN DANGER
The ship Wakashio ran aground at Pointe of Esny, a particularly ecologically sensitive place since the Blue Bay Marine Park is nearby. However, the site is classified in the Ramsar convention, which recognizes “wetlands of international importance“.
There is indeed abundant, rich biodiversity, especially in fish, turtles, and rare corals, including vulnerable species and giant coral specimens that are a thousand years old.
“Thousands of species around the pristine lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe of Esny and Mahebourg risk drowning in a sea of pollution, with disastrous consequences for the economy, food security, and health of Mauritius“, worried Greenpeace Africa.
The same story among local associations, such as Eco-Sud, which explains that the risk is “enormous for the entire fishing reserve, for the entire east coast” and affirms that “it will be a disaster“. French President Emmanuel Macron also recalled in a tweet that “biodiversity is in danger” and that there is “urgent need to act“.