Oil spill from grounded Japanese vessel threatens marine ecosystem of Mauritius
NAIROBI (KENYA) – The marine ecosystem close to the shores of Mauritius has taken a hit with the oil spill from the grounded Japanese vessel spreading. On Tuesday, Mauritian volunteers fished dead oil-coated eels from the sea while trying to clean up the spill near its pristine beaches. The Japanese bulk carrier leaked 1,000 tonnes of oil into the Indian Ocean.
The vessel, MV Wakashio, which is owned by Nagashiki Shipping and operated by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd, ran aground on a coral reef near the southeast coast of Mauritius on July 25 and began leaking oil.
According to activists, there are dead eels and starfish coated with the sticky black liquid and crabs and seagulls are also dying.
“We don’t know what may happen further with the boat, it may crack more,” said clean up volunteer Yvan Luckhun.
The MV Wakashio still has some 2,000 tonnes of oil and the vessel runs the risk of breaking apart, said Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth late on Monday, warning that the country must brace for the worst.
The country is working with French authorities to clean up the spill.
The oil spill has set back two decades worth of restoration of the natural habit of wildlife and flora in the lagoon after the government banned sand harvesting in 2000, said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at the non-governmental Mauritius Wildlife Foundation.
He said the fragmentation of oil in the sea will damage the corals when the heavier parts settle on them.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field